Image: Erika Hernandez, 28, gives a thumbs up from inside an ambulance after being discharged
Eduardo Verdugo  /  AP
Erika Hernandez, 28, gives a thumbs up from inside an ambulance after being discharged from the hospital where she had a heart transplant in Mexico City, Tuesday. staff and news service reports
updated 1/25/2012 4:41:11 AM ET 2012-01-25T09:41:11

A heart that was dropped on the ground while being transported to a hospital has been successfully transplanted into a 28-year-old hair stylist.

However Dr. Jaime Saldivar said Erika Hernandez doesn't yet know that her new heart made national news when a medic stumbled and the plastic-wrapped heart tumbled out of a cooler onto the street two weeks ago.

Saldivar said it would be up to the family to tell her.

Video: Watch the moment the heart fell out (on this page)
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A rosy-cheeked Hernandez spoke briefly with reporters on Tuesday and thanked the donor's family, saying "I have no words to express what I'm feeling right now."

Hernandez was born with a congenital heart defect. She received the heart of a man who died in a car accident.

The heart was taken from Guanajuato state to Mexico city, a distance of 280 miles, traveling in an ambulance, then a plane, and then a helicopter, according to The Guardian newspaper. The nation's media followed every step of the journey.

'Rapid, precision maneuver'
Mexico City police had described the operation to deliver the heart as a "rapid, precision maneuver."

Everything appeared to be going smoothly as traffic was stopped to allow the helicopter to land near the hospital.

However, after leaving the helicopter one of the two medics wheeling the cooler that contained the plastic-wrapped heart stumbled.

The lid of the cooler came off and the heart fell out onto the street.

Story: Heart patients have higher hospital readmission rates

The medics are seen on video hurriedly pushing it back inside, leaving some ice packs behind, and continuing the short journey to the hospital.

In one of the more printable online comments made after the incident, newspaper reader Christian Sabido said that, "Anybody can make a mistake, but with this type of thing you should be careful."

At the time, doctors said the transplant operation had gone ahead, but added that they wanted to wait to confirm it had been successful.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Heart for transplant tumbles out of cooler


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