An excruciating wait and more than 50 days on a mechanical life-support system ended for a young Costa Mesa man Sunday when doctors replaced his virus-damaged heart in a successful transplant.
Raymond Smallcomb, 22, was recuperating Monday after surgery in which Sharp Memorial Hospital doctors attached a donor heart taken from a Central California man in his early 20s, according to Judy Coburn, transplant coordinator at Sharp. Smallcomb's liver and kidneys were functioning normally with the transplant, doctors said.
The new heart was in place and working by 3 a.m. Sunday, Coburn said. It had earlier been flown to San Diego, packed in a sterile plastic bag and kept at 5 degrees Celsius in a saline solution in a cooler. It arrived at Lindbergh Field just after 1 a.m.
A transplant team of doctors, nurses and assistants from Sharp flew to Central California Saturday night to retrieve the heart with blood type O, Coburn said.