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Baby Who Was on List for Heart Transplant Dies

September 05, 1997|BOB POOL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Pico Rivera baby born with half a heart--whose struggle to live touched adult hearts across Los Angeles--has died.

Jasmine Torres, who spent more than a month at the top of the Southern California-area heart transplant list without receiving a new one, was 47 days old.

"She tried her hardest to live. She just got tired," her father, Michael Torres, said Thursday.

Funeral services will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at St. Alphonsus Church, 532 S. Atlantic Ave. Burial will follow at Resurrection Cemetery in San Gabriel.

Jasmine's plight and the joy that parents Torres and Eileen Rios experienced when the infant was placed at the top of the transplant list was detailed Aug. 7 by The Times.

Doctors discovered that Jasmine suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome hours after her birth July 14 in Bellflower. A birth defect that can show up in one in 7,000 newborns, it results in an undeveloped heart chamber that fails to pump adequate amounts of blood to organs.

Although it sometimes can be corrected through a series of operations, generally only a heart transplant can remedy it, doctors told Rios and Torres.

"There was no question what we would do: We would give our baby the best chance at life. We would have a transplant," said Rios, 25, a data-entry clerk for a Vernon picture framing company.

Friends and family members had rallied to the young family's aid.

Rios' mother, Susie Robledo of El Sereno, quit her job at a department store distribution center to be a full-time baby sitter for Breanna, Rios' 4-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. That cleared the way for Rios to spend time at the hospital.

Rios' sister, Brandy Chacon, made room for her to stay at her own El Sereno home so Rios could easily commute each day to the Hollywood hospital.

At the Century City law office of Irell & Manella, where the 28-year-old Torres works in the duplicating center, Gary Maxwell, Laura Henry, Arthur Cerda and Ernie Casas passed the hat and raised $3,000 for the couple.

By the time she was a month old, Jasmine was No. 1 on the local heart transplant list. But doctors warned that she might face a long wait for a donated heart that was small enough and the right blood type.

The list is held in a Richmond, Va., computer that is operated by the national United Network for Organ Sharing. It prioritizes heart transplant requests on the basis of patients' medical condition. Two organ procurement services handle the Los Angeles area.

Although Jasmine had a setback three weeks ago, she had rallied at Kaiser Permanente's Hollywood hospital. When her condition worsened on Saturday, doctors transferred her to the Loma Linda University Medical Center in San Bernardino County.

"She died the night Princess Diana died," Torres said.

"She was our little princess."

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