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Toddler Undergoing Multiple Organ Transplant

November 29, 1988

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A 3-year-old girl who has spent most of her life in the hospital underwent a rare, five-organ transplant today that doctors said was her only chance for survival.

Rolandrea Dodge of Fruitland, N.M., went into surgery around 11 p.m. Monday. The complicated operation was expected to end early in the afternoon at the earliest, said spokesmen at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The surgical team, headed by Dr. Satoru Todo, was implanting a new liver, pancreas, part of a stomach and small and large intestines into the child. The organs were procured by transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas E. Starzl from a single donor, a child whose identity was withheld.

″The surgery is going very smoothly,″ hospital spokeswoman Sue Cardillo said.

Rolandrea, who is usually known as Rolly, arrived at Children’s Hospital in mid-October to be evaluated for a multiple organ transplant. She was accompanied by her parents, Branden and Cyndi Dodge, who also have two sons.

Roll was born with the incurable disease intractable secretory diarrhea, which prevented her intestines from absorbing food and liquids. She had to be fed intravenously, although she was allowed occasional nibbles of candy, potatoes and other solid food.

Aside from brief outings, Rolly has spent her entire life in hospitals. Doctors in New Mexico said she wouldn’t survive long unless she underwent a multiple organ transplant.

The girl’s liver began failing about three months ago, and her skin became jaundiced, or yellow in color because of bile pigments in the blood.

Doctors began administering an experimental drug on Nov. 9 in hopes of allowing her intestines to absorb food and liquids, but it was unsuccessful, Ms. Cardillo said.

″That was really the last available treatment option,″ she said.

Dodge, 27, a surface coal miner, said shortly after arriving in Pittsburgh that it was difficult deciding whether to allow Rolly to undergo the experimental transplant. But, he said, ″It’s the only hope that we’ve got left.″

″We don’t have any doubts,″ he said. ″It’s just the way our (American) Indian people are. That’s just the way they taught us: Try not to think negative about things, it’s going to work out.″

The Dodges are Navajo and have received pledges of support from the Navajo Tribal Council in Window Rock, Ariz.

Abdominal transplants involving two or more organs previously have been performed only four times in the United States, and all the patients have died. The longest survivor, Tabatha Foster, 3 1/2 , of Madisonville, Ky., died of a bloodstream infection in May, six months after receiving a record five organs at Children’s Hospital.

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