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Hospital Had Data Before Transplant Error

Feb 20, 2003 | AP

Duke University Hospital surgeons declined a heart and lungs offered for transplant in two cases before one doctor requested them , but for a teenager with the wrong blood type, two organ-procurement agencies said.

The girl's surgeons may also have committed themselves to the transplant too early, removing her own damaged organs before the replacements arrived and the mismatch could be discovered.

Correct information about the blood type was given to a Duke surgical team that flew to Boston to extract the donor organs Feb. 7, said the New England Organ Bank, the Newton, Mass., organization that offered the organs.

Duke hospital officials had no comment today on why doctors sought the type-A organs for Jesica Santillan, a type-O-positive patient who is now near death as her body rejects the transplants.

"We are just really struggling with how a surgical transplant team did not have the ability to find the facts, to talk to the two other surgeons at Duke that these organs were solicited to, and how did they make an outside solicitation for organs that weren't for this child and not be told" that they were of the wrong blood type, said Renee McCormick, a spokeswoman for the Franklin County charity that is helping pay the girl's medical bills.

Jesica, 17, was in critical condition today as antibodies in her blood tried to destroy the transplanted organs. Doctors estimated before the operation that she had no more than six months to live.

Durham-based Carolina Donor Services, which alerted Duke transplant surgeons that the organs were available, said it "received the donor's medical and lab information, including the blood type," from the New England Organ Bank.

CDS said it forwarded all the information to Duke.

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