Family suspects organ harvesting a motive behind 39-year-old father being wrongfully declared dead
08/04/2020 // Cassie B. // Views

Getting a phone call from a hospital informing you that someone you love dearly is dead is easily one of the most traumatic events you will experience in your lifetime, and if your loved one was relatively young and healthy, there’s a mix of shock and devastation to deal with. But for the family of 39-year-old Jacob Chapman, the true shock came seven hours after the dreaded phone call, when a Florida hospital informed his family that he was not actually dead after all – and the hospital’s eagerness to discuss his organ donor status has raised a lot of questions about his treatment.

Chapman, who was a worship leader in Panama City Beach, was found unresponsive one night last week in his cabinet shop with a weak pulse. His wife, who has worked in the medical field for many years, gave him chest compressions until emergency medical services arrived, who were able to get this heart beating on its own with an automatic compression device while en route to the hospital.

He was transferred from the Bay at the Beach Emergency Room to Ascension Sacred Heart Bay hospital at 4:30 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., his wife, Kristen, got a call from a doctor declaring him dead. Needless to say, the news left her and the couple’s five children absolutely devastated.

Seven hours later, however, a nurse called to say that the hospital was running more tests on him because when the mortuary went to pick up his body, they discovered that his heart was still beating on its own. The hospital claimed they “misspoke” on the phone earlier and meant to say that he was brain dead and not completely dead, but Mrs. Chapman said she was told very clearly in the presence of witnesses that her husband was deceased and that she needed to call the mortuary to pick up his body.


She struggled to get more information about his status, but the hospital was all too happy to talk about harvesting his organs with her. She was given a 15-minute visit with him the following day, and when she went to his room, she discovered they had disconnected him from life-saving measures such as IVs. He was still on a ventilator, but he was not being given any fluids or medications, and his kidneys were starting to fail from dehydration.

Although the doctors claimed they could not treat him anymore because he was brain dead, she saw no visible signs of death. His skin looked and felt normal and healthy, his heart was beating independently, and his body was not starting to decay. After pleading with the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, she got them to agree to reconnect everything and give him the same treatment any ICU patient would get; his creatinine dropped, and he started having urine output again.

Family expresses outrage over Chapman's treatment

His family believes that his organ donor status played a big role in the treatment he received. His wife talked about the pressure the organ procurement team placed on her and the hospital.

Mike Chapman, Jake’s father, said: “Jake intended for his organs to be donated once he had a natural death. A death where God called him home, not when man decided to put an end to his life. This is mind blowing. It feels like the vultures have been swarming from day one — Jake’s well-being not their priority, his organs being their priority.”

Protests were held outside of the hospital as friends and family shared their frustration over his treatment. His family succeeded in having him transferred to a VA Hospital in Gainesville a few days later at the request of Congressman Neal Dunn; Chapman was a medic in the Army. They are confident he will get better treatment there as he recovers from a suspected stroke and that they will focus on saving him rather than just his organs.

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