PITTSBURGH — A 3-year-old girl was awake and kicking Monday as doctors watched for any signs of rejection after she became only the third person in the nation to receive a five-organ transplant.
Tabatha Foster of Madisonville, Ky., remained in critical condition, which is normal after transplant surgery, at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said hospital spokeswoman Lynn McMahon.
"Tabatha's moving. She's kicking," said her mother, Sandra Foster. "She's opened her eyes and she's responding to her dad and I. When we say, 'Tabatha, wiggle your toes,' she'll wiggle her toes."
Transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl said Tabatha was wide awake but could not talk because she was breathing with a respirator, which may be removed today. She was sedated enough to make her comfortable, and her arms were restrained.
'Great Right Now'
"She's great right now," Starzl said. "Her lungs are fine. Her kidneys are functioning well. Her cardiovascular system is normal. This is more or less what we were hoping for."
Surgeons transplanted a liver, pancreas, small intestine and parts of the stomach and colon during an operation that ended Sunday after nearly 15 hours.
The organs came from 2-month-old Heather Orick of Pennington Gap, Va., who died after a car accident.
Foster said she and her husband, Roy, had medical insurance but it would cover only costs up to the transplant, not follow-up care. They have no other children.
Tabatha could become the first survivor among three U.S. recipients of such transplants since 1983.
Doctors removed Tabatha's spleen, which filters blood and can trigger rejection of new organs. They were watching her closely for any signs that her body's natural defenses are attacking the foreign tissue.
Tabatha suffered from short gut syndrome, a congenital deformity in which twisted intestines block the flow of blood.