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Girl’s Squirming, A Good Sign

November 3, 1987

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Three-year-old Tabatha Foster struggled Tuesday to remove the respirator tube in her mouth, a good sign to doctors monitoring her recovery from a five- organ transplant.

″She’s really fighting it,″ said Sue Cardillo, spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The Madisonville, Ky., girl was restrained and under mild sedation, she said.

″She had a great night″ of sleep under mild sedation, she said.

Services were scheduled Tuesday for the donor, 2-month-old Heather Orick, of Pennington Gap, Va., who was fatally injured in a car accident.

Doctors were hopeful Tabatha would show sufficient signs of recovery for them to remove the respirator and allow her to breathe on her own and talk for the first time since her 15-hour transplant operation began Saturday, Miss Cardillo said.

They are watching for signs that Tabatha’s natural defenses might begin to attack the liver, pancreas, small intestine and partial stomach and colon she received. They also are monitoring the new organs to see that all function properly.

They removed Tabatha’s spleen, which filters blood and can trigger rejection of transplants. She is receiving the drug cyclosporine to lessen the chance of rejection.

Tabatha suffered from short gut syndrome, a deadly congenital deformity in which twisted intestines block the flow of blood.

The condition was relieved when she was 2 days old by removal of her lower intestine, but that left her unable to eat solid food, and her highly- concentrated liquid diet caused her liver to fail.

She needed only a new liver and small intestine, but transplanting the five-organ group was less complicated, doctors said.

She is only the third person in the nation to undergo a five-organ tranplant.

The operation was performed on a child at Children’s Hospital in 1983 and on a boy at Chicago’s Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital last year. Neither survived.

The child in Pittsburgh had been injured badly and stood less chance of surviving from the outset of the operation. The other child, Ryan Threet, 17 months, of Mountain Home, Ark., ″looked great for the next couple of days″ but then began bleeding internally, said James W. Williams, transplant director at the Chicago hospital.

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