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Center’s Youngest Transplant Patient Dies

February 18, 1988

Undated (AP) _ An anencephalic baby kept on life-support systems to preserve his organs for transplant died this morning in California, and a 3-week-old boy too weak to undergo a second heart transplant died in a Pittsburgh hospital.

″The anencephalic baby has been declared dead,″ said Dick Schaefer, spokesman for Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif.

He refused to immediately say whether the boy’s organs were in suitable condition for transplants.

The unidentified boy, who was born with most of his brain missing, had been on a respirator at the hospital 60 miles east of Los Angeles, said spokeswoman Anita Rockwell. He was born Tuesday in Anaheim, she said.

Most babies born with anencephaly die within days. Their healthy organs can be transplanted if organ damage is prevented by maintaining the infants on life-support.

No cases of anencephalics being kept on life-support have been announced in the United States, although Leonard Bailey, chief of Loma Linda’s heart transplant program, last year suggested there have been such infants.

At Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Johnathan Stowe died Wednesday afternoon, still attached to the heart-lungs bypass machine on which doctors had placed him after surgery, said Lynn McMahon, hospital spokeswoman.

His parents, David and Tabitha Stowe of Beaver Falls, were with him. Johnathan received a new heart Monday. The left side of his own heart was underdeveloped at his birth Jan. 25.

Doctors said the cause of death was failure of the donor heart. The organ had come from an infant close in age and size to Johnathan, who was 7.6 pounds at birth, Ms. McMahon said.

″It really is perplexing for the surgeons,″ she said. ″The match with the donor organ was very good. The surgery itself ... proceeded very well. But for some unknown reason, immediately after surgery, the heart began to weaken.″

Johnathan was placed on the bypass machine following the transplant in hopes the donor organ could rest and gain strength, Ms. McMahon said. Doctors on Monday gave him a 10 percent chance to survive, and he developed complications with his lungs and kidneys the next day.

Johnathan never gained consciousness following the transplant, Ms. McMahon said. A second transplant was not considered because ″doctors felt his system couldn’t withstand another surgery,″ she said.

In California, Loma Linda had maintained the infant on life-support under guidelines developed last year after a woman pregnant with an anencephalic baby waged a nationwide campaign to find a hospital that would consent to keep her child on life-support until the organs could be donated. But that baby was stillborn.

One of the hospital’s 13 heart transplant patients under age 4 received the heart of an anencephalic baby, but the donor child was in Canada.

An infant who received a heart transplant at Loma Linda on Sunday remained in serious but stable condition. The boy was born with a fatal heart defect.

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