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Ailing Boy Is 'Doing Fine' After Receiving New Heart

April 28, 1986|LOIS TIMNICK | Times Staff Writer

A 15-month-old boy was in critical condition but "doing fine," a day after receiving a new heart from an infant girl who died from an accidental drug overdose, officials at Loma Linda University Medical Center said.

The boy, identified only as "Baby James," had suffered from cardiomyopathy, or deteriorating heart muscle.

Loma Linda public affairs officer Richard Schaefer said no additional information on the baby, the heart donor or how the organ became available will be released.

However, he said, the parents "have expressed gratitude to the donor family for the difficult decision they made and for their gift of life to Baby James" and have asked the hospital to release periodic reports on the condition of their son, an only child.

Despite the secrecy at Loma Linda, a spokesperson at California Medical Center-Los Angeles said Baby James' new heart is that of a 15-month-old girl who was disconnected from life-support systems Saturday morning, with her father's consent. She had been hospitalized there since April 20 for an accidental drug overdose, and died after developing a blood clot on the brain.

Baby James is the third baby to receive a human heart transplant at Loma Linda, a Seventh-day Adventist hospital located 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The first two, 4-day-old Baby Moses, who got his new heart last November, and 17-day-old Baby Eve, who received a transplant in January, are both still alive.

Saturday's operation, like the previous two baby heart transplants, was performed by Dr. Leonard Bailey, chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, who was assisted by Dr. John Jacobson, director of cardio-thoracic surgery. Bailey is the controversial surgeon who transplanted a baboon heart into the infant known as Baby Fae in 1984. The infant died 20 1/2 days later.

Baby-to-baby heart transplants are still quite rare, both because they are more risky than adult transplants and because donors are difficult to find.

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