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Boy Has $25,000 In Pledges for Partial Transplant

January 5, 1985

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ The family of a 6-year-old Polish boy who needs life-saving heart surgery has received pledges for the $25,000 a hospital said it wanted before it would admit him, a family friend said Saturday.

However, if the donors fail to make good their pledges, Piotr Sternik might give up attempts to enter Stanford University Medical Center and accept an offer of free surgery from the non-profit Deborah Hospital in Brown Mills, N.J., which specializes in heart and lung surgery, Peter Wasowski said.

Piotr, the son of former Solidarity union activist Michal Sternik, who is still in Poland, was born with a heart defect that causes much of his blood to bypass his lungs. Doctors refused to say how long Piotr would live without the surgery, but his ailment is always fatal.

″Psychologically, it would be better to stay here,″ said Wasowski, who arranged for Piotr and his mother, Halina Sternik, to come from Gdansk, Poland, where doctors are unable to help the boy.

″But if we don’t have the money (by early this week), we will consider the offer made by Deborah Hospital. Doctors have said he needs ″partial transplant surgery″ to create a connection between his heart and lungs.

Wasowski said Stanford has a surgical technique superior to that of other hospitals.

″The Stanford surgery uses human tissue, while most other places use synthetic tissue, and the child has to be operated on again in two or three years,″ Wasowski said.

Although Piotr’s surgeons have agreed to donate their services, Stanford asked for $25,000 in advance to cover other medical costs. The hospital said admitting the child without payment would set a precedent that could flood Stanford with similar requests.

Wasowski said a bank account opened for Piotr had $6,000 in donations by Friday, and another $6,000 had been pledged. A labor union in San Francisco had offered to make up the difference between total pledges and the $25,000, he said.

″If everything comes together, we should have the money,″ Wasowski said, adding that he should know by Tuesday whether they have reached their goal.

Once the money is secured, the next step would be to find a donor for the heart tissue Piotr needs.

He and his mother are living in Wasowski’s home in nearby San Carlos.

Wasowski said Mrs. Sternik was ″very encouraged by the response. At the beginning, she couldn’t believe we could raise that amount of money. At this moment, she’s got a positive outlook.″

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