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Woman Becomes Living Heart Donor

November 9, 1988

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A living woman’s healthy heart has been removed and transplanted into another patient, and the donor then was given the heart and lungs of a girl who died in a fall.

Doctors said Tuesday they decided to do a heart-lung transplant on the St. Paul woman and give her heart to someone else rather than replace just her damaged lungs because it is an easier operation.

It is one of only a handful of such ″domino transplant″ procedures done since the first one at Johns Hopkins University hospital in Baltimore 1 1/2 years ago, said Dr. Robert Emery, head of transplant surgery at Abbot Northwestern Hospital.

″The important thing is that the donor organs were used maximally,″ said Emery. ″We kind of got two for one on this. The second patient might have had to wait a long time, so the timing was nice.″

Late Sunday, doctors from Abbott Northwestern obtained the heart and lungs of an unidentified brain-dead 17-year-old girl.

Surgeons then removed the heart of Barbara Tremble, 28, of St. Paul, and transplanted it into Eva Hallberg, 61, of Roseville, whose heart had been badly damaged by several heart attacks.

Tremble’s lungs, left almost useless by cystic fibrosis, were then removed and she was given the 17-year-old’s heart and lungs.

Tremble was in critical condition late Tuesday, breathing with the help of a respirator. Emery said he expects her recovery to be slow.

Emery said Tremble knew her chances of surviving the operation were only 50-50 because she had been weakened by cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that attacks the lungs, and by diabetes.

Hallberg was reported in good condition Tuesday.

Tremble transferred to Abbott Northwestern’s transplant waiting list several weeks ago because of a personnel shakeup in the University of Minnesota’s lung and heart-lung transplant program. She had been on a waiting list at the university for about a year.

Emery said doctors talked to Tremble about the possibility of donating her heart to someone else well in advance of her surgery.