PITTSBURGH, Pa. — A 7-year-old Florida boy, whose need for a new liver drew nationwide attention after donations from his classmates were stolen, was in critical condition Sunday and hospital officials said he needs a second transplant.
A virus has attacked the liver implanted into Ronnie DeSillers in February, and the youngster's condition was reported Sunday as critical, officials said.
He was to be moved from the surgical recovery floor to intensive care at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, nursing supervisor Debbie Lesniak said.
"Ronnie has been placed on the waiting list for a donor liver," said hospital spokeswoman Lynn McMahon. Hospital officials said they needed a donor liver that matched Ronnie's size and AB blood type, which is relatively rare.
McMahon said the problem was not that Ronnie's body was rejecting the organ he received in a 12-hour operation Feb. 24.
"What happens with all transplant recipients is that the anti-rejection medication suppresses the body's immune system. As a result, these children aren't able to fight off viruses and infection the way other children can," she said.
The virus that attacked Ronnie's system is "affecting the function of the liver. It cannot be corrected through medication," McMahon said.
Outpouring of Donations
The boy was flown to Children's Hospital on Feb. 17 after an outpouring of donations that totaled $400,000, including a $1,000 check from President Reagan.
The donations were prompted by news reports that thieves had stolen $4,000 collected for Ronnie by his classmates at his school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where his mother, Maria DeSillers, works. Last week, officers of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy presented checks totaling about $32,000 to DeSillers.