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Stroke patient overhears organ donation chat

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Stroke patient overhears organ donation chat
Fritze in the hospital. File photo: Private
15:50 CEST+02:00
Doctors in Sweden discussed organ donation within earshot of Jimi Fritze as he lay in hospital after a stroke. The patient, however, could hear every word but couldn't protest as he couldn't move.

Fritze, 43, suffered a stroke almost two years ago when he was out in the Gothenburg archipelago with his family.

"I managed to catch my girlfriend's attention - I was bright red in the face. she's a nurse so she managed to keep my airways open," he told The Local.

But as the ambulance helicopter was unable to land on the small island, Fritze had to wait for a boat to take him into Sahlgrenska hospital, where he arrived an hour and a half after the stroke.

"Only my ears and eyes were working," Fritze said.

After doctors looked at a scan of his brain, they went to tell the family the bad news.

"They told my girlfriend that there was no hope," he said.

As almost 14 members of his family came in to say goodbye to him, the doctors brought up the question of organ donation, which, as he would later underscore in an official complaint, Swedish doctors are not supposed to do until the patient has been diagnosed as brain dead.

Frtize heard every word, but had no way to get the doctors' or his family's attention.

It would take three days until he got a second opinion, as another doctor returned from holiday.

"She looked at my scans and said 'This doesn't look too bad' and told the staff to give me cortisone to bring down the swelling in my brain," Fritze recalled. "But even so, my girlfriend and my sister had to fight with the night nurse to give me cortisone, and this was just one day before they had said they would make a final 'chance of survival' assessment."

While he then improved, it would take another three weeks before he could communicate with his family. Two years later, he still struggles with his speech. He said it had taken him so long to report the treatment to the authorities for two reasons. Firstly, he had simply been too unwell to take the task on. Secondly, an item on the news spurred him into action.

"It was about a Danish woman. They took her off life support, but then she survived. But there was some boss or another from the Swedish National Health and Welfare Board who said on the TV news that 'This would never happen in Sweden'," Fritze told The Local.

He has now sent an official complaint to the health and welfare board, which oversees quality of healthcare in Sweden.

"If that doctor hadn't come back from (her) holiday, would I have been made to lie there until my body couldn't take it any longer?" Fritze queried in his complaint.

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