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Surgeons Transplant Daughter’s Heart Into Own Father

August 25, 1994

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) _ A man who had been waiting years for a heart transplant finally got one - from his own daughter, who was killed in a car wreck.

Chester Szuber received the heart Monday from his 22-year-old daughter, Patti, officials at William Beaumont Hospital said today. She was killed in a traffic accident a week ago in Knoxville, Tenn.

Szuber, 58, of the Detroit suburb of Berkley, had been on a heart transplant waiting list for nearly four years, the hospital said in a statement.

″It would be a joy to have Patti’s heart,″ Bob Szuber quoted his father as telling the family.

″I’m sure down the road there will be some tough times,″ the brother said, adding that his sister is ″the happiest little angel in heaven.″

Ms. Szuber was the youngest of six children in the family. Her brother told a news conference today that she had signed an organ donor card before even knowing their father would need a transplant. The family intended to honor those wishes, then learned her heart could be designated for her father if they were compatible.

Szuber said his mother feared she might end up losing both a daughter and a husband, but Chester Szuber persuaded her to allow him to be designated the recipient.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Altshuler said Chester Szuber was in good condition with a good prognosis for a full recovery. He was suffering life-threatening heartbeat irregularities and had undergone three open-heart operations and two angioplasties in the past 20 years to clear blockages.

Ms. Szuber’s liver and kidneys were donated to other recipients.

Joel Newman, spokesman for the United Network for Organ Sharing in Richmond, Va., said his organization does not keep statistics on the relation of donors to recipients. But he had never heard of a heart donation of one family member to another.

It’s legal in almost all states for a donor family to specify an individual to receive an organ, even if other people on the waiting list might be sicker, he said. Most such cases involve a living donor who is giving, say, a kidney.

″I think there has never been great concern about donations to a specified individual, such as a family member,″ Newman said. ″I think that’s generally accepted as a possible option.″

Ms. Szuber was injured in a one-car wreck in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park about 40 miles southeast of Knoxville in the early morning hours of Aug. 18.

She was thrown for the car when it went off the road at a curve, hit a rock wall and rolled several times. The driver was treated for minor injuries and faces drunken driving and other charges.

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