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Polish Boy Undergoes More Surgery; Doing Well

January 26, 1985

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ A 6-year-old Polish boy, whose life-saving heart surgery was made possible by $25,000 in donations, underwent additional surgery to stop internal bleeding Saturday and was in critical but stable condition, hospital officials said.

The surgery at 4:30 a.m. came about 13 hours after doctors at Stanford University Medical Center repaired Piotr Sternik’s defective heart valve in a seven-hour operation. Physicians characterized the bleeding problem as minor and said the boy was doing well.

Doctors expect Piotr to be out of the hospital in about 10 days, said Peter Wasowski, a family friend who has been host to the boy and his mother, Halina Sternik, since their arrival from Gdansk, Poland, on Dec. 28.

However, it may take two months before the boy can return to Gdansk.

″Physicians want to make sure that he has fully recovered,″ said Wasowski, of nearby San Carlos.

Mrs. Sternik telephoned her husband, former Solidarity activist Michal Sternik, on Friday night to let him know the surgery had gone well, Wasowski said. Sternik, who stayed behind while his wife and son went to the United States to seek the life-saving surgery that Polish doctors couldn’t perform, wept when he heard that the operation had been a success.

″He (Michal) was so happy to hear the news,″ Wasowski said. ″He was estatic. He couldn’t believe that it was over and Piotr was all right.″

Piotr, who suffered from a congenital heart defect that caused much of his blood to bypass his lungs, entered the operating room at about 7:30 a.m. Friday and played with an inflated surgical glove that sported a happy face until surgeons were ready, Stanford spokesman Mike Goodkind said.

Surgeons grafted a new valve from a donor heart onto Piotr’s heart and patched a hole between his heart chambers.

Surgeons used human tissue rather than animal tissue or synthetic material to reduce the chances of rejection,because the child and his mother plan to return to Poland, Goodkind said.

Piotr’s admission to Stanford was delayed briefly last month after the hospital requested $25,000 in advance to cover costs associated with the surgery. However, the money was collected in more than 1,000 donations from private individuals.

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