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Patient Gives Up Heart, Gets Heart, Lungs

May 12, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BALTIMORE — Two patients underwent a history-making operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in which surgeons performed a full heart-lung transplant on a man with cystic fibrosis, then transplanted his healthy heart into another man with cardiac problems, hospital officials said today.

Clinton House, 28, was believed to be the world's first living heart donor.

Joyce Plesic, House's mother, said her son was doing well following surgery.

"He was very happy," she told a news conference. "He said if someone could help him, he should help someone else."

House, the cystic fibrosis patient, and the patient who received his heart, 38-year-old John Couch, were listed in critical but stable condition today after Monday's surgery.

Hospital spokeswoman JoAnn Rogers said House had a good heart but he desperately needed a lung transplant. In cystic fibrosis, the body produces thick mucus that clogs the lungs, and most of its victims die from progressive breakdown of lung tissue.

"There is at present very little experience with transplanting lungs alone," without also transplanting a heart, she said, and in those cases where lungs alone were transplanted the results have been "very poor."

"He was given the heart and lungs of a 32-year-old accident victim," she said. "But because his heart was OK . . . he agreed to donate his own heart to someone else."

Rogers said the cystic fibrosis patient's heart was then transplanted into another Hopkins patient.

"We believe he is the first living donor," Rogers said.

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