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Young Patient's Dad Accused of Stealing for Surgery

March 06, 1985|JENNINGS PARROTT

--A 5-year-old Australian girl became one of the youngest recipients of heart and lung transplants Monday, while the next day her father pleaded innocent in Melbourne, Australia, to charges he had robbed a fast-food restaurant of $1,400 in an effort to pay for the life-saving operation. A statement by the National Heart Hospital north of London said Brooke Matthews was "making good progress in the intensive care unit" after a 4 1/2-hour operation in which she received the organs of a 3-year-old girl. Brooke's father, 39-year-old Robert Edward Matthews, pleaded innocent to four charges related to the armed robbery of a McDonald's restaurant in Collingwood, a Melbourne suburb, on Dec. 13. He was arrested shortly after the stickup. The father praised the people who contributed money for the operation and the trip to England of Brooke and her mother, Deborah, and said: "I did it for Brooke and I'd do it again."

--A fully-loaded pistol was mailed to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at her New York office, but she was never told it had arrived, police said. The .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and 40 rounds of ammunition, wrapped in plain brown paper and inside a metal box, arrived at Onassis' office at Doubleday & Co., where she works as a book editor, said police spokesman Sgt. Ed LeSchack. The package, postmarked Los Angeles, also contained a handwritten note that was described as "rambling and confused" but "not at all threatening," an investigator said. The New York Post reported that it was an appeal to Onassis to support its author "in the presidential election in 1988."

--Billy Carter, whose service station in Plains, Ga., once was a tourist attraction, said he doesn't mind that it's been passed over by planners of a national historic site to honor his brother, former President Jimmy Carter. "It don't bother me a bit," the younger Carter said. "I live in Waycross, Ga., now. Plains don't bother me at all." The plan for the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site includes preserving the facade of the hospital where the 39th President was born, the small home where he grew up, Plains High School, the railroad depot that was his campaign headquarters and the ranch-style home in which he now lives. The wooden service station with two gasoline pumps, which is located near the depot, drew national attention in 1976 when Billy Carter held court there, drinking beer and talking to reporters. Now, says the younger Carter, who is vice president of a Waycross mobile home manufacturing company: "I don't care if they bulldoze the whole town."

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