No, said airline security, you can’t take this bottle onboard. It exceeds the 100 milliliter limit; it’s forbidden.
But wait, said professor Martin Birchall of Bristol University. This is a medical container. Inside is a trachea, a carefully constructed human windpipe, seeded with 60 million stem cells from a very sick woman in Barcelona. We have just 16 hours to get it into her body. We pre-arranged this.
We have no record of your request, said the airline.
You do have a record, said the professor. There’s a woman in Barcelona right now who needs this, and we are running out of time. It took us five months to create this organ. It is the first of its kind. We must board this plane.
At this point, the medical student who was going to take the organ to Barcelona, Philipp Jungerbluth, told Birchall that he had a pilot friend in Germany with a small jet who could come immediately to Bristol, take the container and fly it straight to Spain. Calls were made, the friend agreed to do it for “cost” — 14,000 pounds (about $21,000) and Birchall paid on the spot. (He was later reimbursed by his university.) (Read more)