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Doctors Say Baby Doing Well After Liver Transplant

November 30, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ A 6-month old girl underwent a liver transplant and was said to be doing well Sunday, and her mother said fund-raising efforts would continue despite the theft of nearly two dozen donation cans placed in stores.

A donor organ was found Saturday night while Shirley and Frank LaRocco were attending a fund-raising party for their ailing daughter, Meghann, and they rushed her to the hospital for the operation.

″I feel that was her lucky night last night,″ Mrs. LaRocco said after the 6 1/2 -hour operation.

The infant was in critical but stable condition Sunday, said Dr. Peter F. Whitington, Meghann’s doctor and director of the pediatric liver transplant program at the University of Chicago’s Wyler Children’s Hospital.

″She is alert and very, very stable. We think that children who are doing this well immediately after surgery have an 80 to 85 percent one-year survival rate,″ said Whitington. ″I think they (Meghann’s parents) feel like they really hit the jackpot last night.″

The LaRoccos didn’t always feel that way. Friends and relatives launched a fund-raising drive for Meghann, setting up the cans for donations in grocery stores, video shops and restaurants.

But out of 100 that were distributed, 22 have been stolen, Mrs. LaRocco said.

″It hurt a lot, and I was angry and discouraged,″ she said. ″How can people steal from a baby? I guess there’s just a lot of desperate people out there.″

She said the thefts won’t stop the fund-raising efforts to pay for the operation and subsequent costs, which could reach $600,000 or more.

″We’re just going to keep fund raising for as long as we possibly can″ she said.

The family has already raised $45,000, of which $19,000 came from donation cans.

Mrs. LaRocco, 28, said about 200 to 300 people came to Saturday night’s event, where they were asked for donation. She didn’t know yet how much money was raised.

The LaRoccos health insurance carries a $200,000 lifetime limit.

Meghann’s father, Frank LaRocco, 33, is a dock man at a trucking firm.

The donor for the transplant was an 18- to 20-month-old child who died Saturday night at another Chicago hospital, apparently of sudden infant death syndrome, said William W. Bulger, spokesman for the University of Chicago Hospitals.

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