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Woman With Down Syndrome Undergoing Heart-Lung Transplant

January 23, 1996

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A woman who initially was refused a heart-lung transplant because she has Down syndrome underwent the operation today after a faster-than-expected match with a donor.

Sandra Jensen, 35, got a new heart and lungs at the Stanford University Medical Center. The operation went satisfactorily, and she was in critical condition afterward as is normal in such cases, hospital spokesman Mike Goodkind said.

Jensen was flown from Sacramento late Monday after a potential donor heart and lungs became available.

She had been placed on the transplant list, awaiting a tissue match, only last week.

``I can’t believe it,″ said William Bronston, a state rehabilitation official who served as Jensen’s advocate during her fight for a transplant. ``We were expecting to wait two years.″

Jensen suffers from congenital heart problems and pulmonary hypertension and her health has been deteriorating rapidly, Bronston said. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder named after the doctor who first reported it in 1866.

Hospitals at Stanford and the University of California at San Diego rejected a transplant for Jensen last summer on the grounds that she didn’t have the intelligence to deal with the follow-up care and any complications. Down syndrome is associated with mental retardation.

Stanford officials reversed the decision after her case gained national attention.

Jensen, who has worked on behalf of people with Down syndrome, graduated from high school and has lived on her own for several years. She was present when President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Jensen’s mother, Kay DeMaio, of Elmira, Ore., flew in to join her daughter late Monday.

``She’s doing amazingly well, considering,″ Kay DeMaio said from her daughter’s hospital bedside before the surgery. ``We’re trying to get over the initial shock.″

The donor died somewhere outside the San Francisco Bay area, hospital officials said, refusing to give any other information.

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