The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 26, 1998 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, May 26, 1998
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Page 8
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A8 TUESDAY. MAY 26. 1998 NATION THE SAUNA JOURNAL ORGAN TRANSPLANTS Awash in grief, family donates 1 3-year-old always 'wanted to help other people,' her mom says By LAURA MECKLER The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA — Natalie Woods is too tired, too empty to listen. She's been at the hospital since last night, when her husband died. Now her daughter is dead, too. But kneeling before her on the cold hospital floor is Janie Hibbler. She's asking for her daughter's 13-year-old heart. She also wants her kidneys, her pancreas and her liver. "She could possibly help other people," Kibbler says over the roar of machines that are keeping this young heart pumping and lungs breathing. "I would be with her the whole time," she says. "We would treat her with all the respect and love that she needs and that she deserves." It is a moment replayed two dozen times a day across the country. Half the people who are asked say yes, enabling 17,000 organ transplants each year. The other half say no. Much of the discussion surrounding organ transplants concerns how to divvy up the scarce organs available, with economic, political and geographic fights overlaying the 4,000 people who die each year waiting for a transplant. But the heart of any transplant begins in hospital rooms like this one, where a 13-year-old girl has died, and a devastated family is forced to make a choice. ; It's an ugly car crash. The Ford Taurus speeds off the long exit ramp of Interstate 95 and merges into traffic at 75 mph. The driver loses control and bounces off two cars before crossing the concrete divider, smashing into oncoming traffic and flipping into a ditch. It's 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, and the driver is pronounced dead. Critically injured, his young passenger still is breathing as an ambulance speeds her to Frankford-Torresdale Hospital. But hope fades fast in the emergency room as an X-ray shows a crushed brain. ;The trauma surgeon calls the Delaware Valley Transplant Program. "Jane Doe" is now a potential organ donor, although it will be two hours before her family gets first word of the accident. A transplant coordinator, Chris Carroll, makes his way to the hospital. Photos by The Associated Press Natalie Woods (left) drapes her arms around her son Christian, who holds a photo of his late sister, FaLon, outside the homeless shelter where they reside in Levlttown, Pa. The bear In Natalie's arms was a gift to FaLon from a counselor at the shelter. hours ago, and her back pains sharpen each time she sees it's not him. He and FaLon, her daughter from a previous relationship, were just going to the grocery store. Then she looks out and sees a police car: There was a crash. Her husband is dead. Her daughter is in critical condition. Natalie Woods is pacing, checking the window, watching for her husband's Ford Taurus to pull up. Anthony should have been home T DIALYSIS FaLon is brain dead, although they are virtually certain she is. Natalie Woods rocks side to side as she tries to absorb so much information. Suddenly, she doubles over, leaning on a nearby nurse who guides her to a wheelchair. "and so little time." The intensive care unit is quiet except for room No. 4, where nearly a dozen doctors and nurses are working on Jane Doe as Carroll arrives. Blood is filling her skull and sputtering out of her eyes, nose and swollen lips. Small pools collect on her light brown skin. Gauze is wrapped around her skull, as her long, black hair flows off the pillow. A tiny braid still hangs along • her face. But nothing else is right. Her blood pressure is extraordinarily low, and there's little oxygen enriching her blood. Suddenly, her heart stops, and doctors must shock it back. Quickly assessing the situation, Carroll figures Jane Doe will not be an organ donor. Her family hasn't even been found. The best candidates are brain dead but stable long enough to allow a family to consider donation and for coordinators to make dozens of complex arrangements. Meanwhile, the patient's lungs are filling with blood, and doctors attach tubes to her chest to drain them. In intensive care, word comes that state troopers have found the girl's family. Jane Doe is now FaLon Willis, three days short of her 14th birthday. With the family on the way to the hospital, donation is suddenly a real possibility. Carroll calls his office to report her blood type, height and weight. The numbers are entered into a computer, and minutes later, hundreds of names awaiting transplants scroll across a screen. •*•• Natalie Woods doesn't change out of house slippers before rushing to the hospital. Doctors give her the bottom line: FaLon isn't going to make it. She doesn't believe them. "No," she says to herself. "My baby's going to make it." She keeps hoping as she makes her way to room No. 4 and sees FaLon's swollen, bloody face, so different from the young woman who dreamed of being a model, whose sparkling eyes dance through the family photo album. Natalie Woods clutches her hands over her mouth as she approaches. "Oh my God. Oh! Oh!" she cries. "Mommy's here for you honey. Oh, please. Oh, God. Please." Dr. Charlie Goldstein explains that doctors haven't yet performed tests to determine whether Two tests — performed six hours apart by different doctors — are required to pronounce someone brain dead. Brain death occurs when there is no activity in the life-sustaining centers of the brain. It's a tough concept to grasp because victims often don't look dead, and families may think they are simply in a coma. But brain death is death, and there's no chance for recovery. It's now 1:20 a.m. Thursday, eight hours after the car crash, but the first brain death test is still hours away. First nurses must warm FaLon up; she's so cold, it's possible that's what is keeping blood from her brain. Nurses cover her with a warming blanket. A 20-page fax of names waiting for transplants is delivered to Chris Carroll. It's too early to approach Natalie Woods — that won't come until FaLon is pronounced dead. But Carroll needs to set the wheels turning. He asks a nurse to collect a few vials of blood to test for HIV, hepatitis and other infections. A nurse himself, he works alongside the medical staff all night, and as morning breaks, he's surprised FaLon is still hanging on — he figured her heart would give out. But her blood pressure is strong, and her body is warm. At 7:43 a.m., Goldstein signs the form certifying that FaLon meets the criteria for brain death: Her eyes don't respond to light; she shows no reaction to intense pain. The young girl under the blanket is but a shell of the vibrant child who loved to play with little kids and didn't mind kisses from her mom and younger brother. FaLon Caprice Willis dreamed of being a singer, or an artist or a model. Or maybe a teacher. Her parents never went to college but she was headed for honors English in 9th grade this fall. Her family was less than stable, bouncing from shelters to motels to public housing. She made friends easily, and it hurt when she changed schools. Her mother would later find herself reading FaLon's poetry over and over. "I've got too much to think about," FaLon wrote, Natalle Woods goes through a box containing personal belongings of her late daughter, FaLon, earlier this month. lations," the grandfather says. "But never more than you can handle," Kibbler says, tears in her eyes. Plastic tubing linked to patients' illnesses Patients in three states have gotten sick after dialysis treatments By The Associated Press LINCOLN, Neb, — Defective tubing used to transmit blood to and from a dialysis machine is being investigated as the possible cause of illnesses reported in three states, including the death of at least one person in Maryland. Dozens of kidney dialysis patients in Nebraska, Massachusetts and Maryland became sick recently after receiving treatments. A common link between all three states is the tubing manufactured by Cobe/Gambro Healthcare of Lakewood, Colo. Tests performed by the company show there is a blockage in the plastic tubing that could lead to patients developing the illness, called hemolysis, Nebraska state epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek said. The tubing, sent to 19 facilities across the country, is used to transmit blood from the body through a dialysis machine and then back into the body. Safranek said Monday he did not know how many different states received a shipment of tubing from the lot in question. Officials at the Dialysis Center of Lincoln said Cobe/Gambro planned to recall three lots of the tubing. The center's statement gave no details. Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment. So far at least one person has died in Maryland because of he- molysis, a condition that occurs when there is a breakdown of red blood cells. Symptoms of hemoly- sis include high blood pressure, chest and back pain and shortness of breath. Over the weekend investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found a single type of tubing made by Cobe/Gambro used in Lincoln, three Maryland dialysis centers and a center in Massachusetts that had sick patients, said Ann Stivers, director of the Lincoln center. Six sets of tubing from the same lot number were used on patients who became ill at the Lincoln center, Stivers said. Normally the tubing is discarded after it is used. But when there were indications there was a problem, the center It's noon Thursday and Kibbler begins calling surgeons, careful to tell them the potential donor is not yet officially dead and her parents have not yet officially consented. But Kibbler needs to be ready. She calls Dr. Harry Yang of Hershey Medical Center to offer the liver, the organ in highest demand because there's no way to keep patients alive while waiting for a donor. Livers are offered to patients in the area, sickest first, and Yang's patient is at the top of the list. Kibbler tells him the liver is torn. Yang, consulting with a colleague, gives a quick answer: "No." The second call goes to the University of Pennsylvania, where surgeon Abraham Shaked has the opposite reaction: "I'll take it," he says. Hearing about the tear does nothing to change his mind. Janie Kibbler drives to Frankford-Torresdale Hospital with her heart in her throat. It's her second 13-year-old in a week; the last time it was a boy who killed himself, and Kibbler is still hurting. She's been sent in to relieve Carroll. First, she has nurses inject drugs to help preserve FaLon's organs. She orders an X-ray of FaLon's heart to see how it's functioning. She alerts the operating room they may need a spot on the schedule. She checks lab results to help match organs with recipients. But her frantic pace slows as she approaches FaLon's grandparents. She takes the grandmother's hand and holds on longer than she has to. "She's in no pain. Know that, know that," Kibbler says. "(God) gives us trials and tribu- It's time for the second brain death exam. Natalie Woods and Jesse Willis, FaLon's natural father, sit silently in room No. 4 as a neurologist they've never met rushes in, performs the tests and, two minutes later, rushes out, looking for the papers to sign. Thirty minutes later, FaLon's parents are informed their daughter is indeed brain dead. Then Kibbler enters the cramped hospital room. There is nowhere left to sit, so she kneels before them to ask. She explains the donation procedure (like a normal operation) and the cost (none to the family). She answers a few questions. The parents sign the consent form. It was an easy decision, Natalie Woods says. When FaLon's grandmother died a few years ago, FaLon volunteered that she would like to be a donor if anything happened to her. "She wanted to help other people," her mother says. "She'll be helping a whole lot of people," Kibbler responds. "All the tears you cry here today, other people will be crying the opposite, the tears of joy, when they hear they have a heart for their loved one." surgeons have opened her chest and cut her organs away frorrrall; but the vital connections needed 1 to circulate blood. ! ; The room is bright, cold and s;ter-| ile — just like a normal operation, i At 7:46 p.m., surgeons fix clamps! on the arteries supplying blood to| the heart. Cold preservation solution is flushed into FaLon's Tab-, domen and ice is poured over her; organs. Blood is suctioned ,out.; And the clock starts ticking: Four, hours to get the heart into its new^ owner, 24 hours for the lively 48 hours for the kidneys. ,. ! The heart comes out first, and a] surgeon holds it in one hand as,he| repairs a small hole. Soon it will' be powering the body of a 56-year- old carpenter. , ! Twenty-five minutes after.. the 1 : clock began ticking, the heart; is; off in a red Playmate cooler,; to; Temple University. . ,' Surgeons move to the other,, or-: gans. The pancreas — along with one of the kidneys — will be put; into a 31-year-old woman who has' 1 gone blind from diabetes. , , < Meanwhile, the liver is ''perfect," says University of Pennsylvania surgeon Kim Olthoff. What about the cut? "It's just a bruise," she says. A 13-year-old liver i§'SQ healthy it doesn't really matter, she says. * But it takes longer than usual te remove the liver and pancrealt Dr. Abraham Shaked, usually friendly and cool-headed, is on,the, phone yelling at Kibbler that'his patient, a 40-year-old man with six children, is on an operating tab'Je,' waiting for his liver. • '"Kibbler must juggle the egos-and, tempers of the surgeon on' .the phone and the surgeon at the table. A sheet shields FaLon's head from the activity around her. Her body is empty. Still, the lone braid lies atop her hair, flowing back of the table. It's now 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and FaLon's heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys have been placed with local hospitals. Surgeons are on their way to Frankford-Torresdale to remove them. But before FaLon is wheeled to the operating room, Natalie Woods spends a few minutes alone with her. She takes her hands, touches her body, brushes her hair. She pulls off the blankets, "just to see her body one more time." And she tries to figure out why. "I felt like I was being punished," she says later. "I couldn't understand. Why my baby?" At 6 p.m. FaLon is wheeled to the OR; portable machines keep her heart and lungs moving. They'll continue to function until .,. Midnight, and the surgeons have all gone back to their hospitals, carrying their cargo in boxe,§ marked "handle with car.e'.'" FaLon's chest has been stitched shut, and soon she'll be in the care of the medical examiner. ',..,... ,'..' Aides clean up the OR, filling' bag after bag with bloody towejs; ,-, But Kibbler's job isn't done. ,"»« She takes a basin of warm,' soapy water and begins to wash FaLon's body. In slow, circuit, motions, she removes the b'lp.pd and grime from her face, 'her, shoulders, her chest — all the way down to her feet. .,.'' When she's done, she folds FaLon's arms on her chest and crosses her ankles. With the bo.dy bag ready to receive its cargo, Hibbler touches FaLon's forehead; shakes her head and smiles a : sad smile. "It's closure for me, too," .Hilfc bier says. "It's my way of thanking her and saying goodbye." ,•-. j-- EDITOR'S NOTE: FaLon's heart, liver, pancreas and two £J(J neys were successfully transplanted into three patients. All three are doing well, living in the Philadff- phia area. saved its tubing, Stivers said. The center shut down last week after 13 dialysis patients became ill between May 13 and May 20. One remained hospitalized today in Lincoln, Stivers said. None of the patients who became ill have been identified publicly. Officials in Maryland said one person died from the illness and a second death may be related to the same problem. Federal investigators also are checking out possible links to illnesses reported in Illinois and Ohio, Stivers said. Bon Secours Baltimore Health Systems in Baltimore stopped dialysis treatment over the weekend at three facilities where about 30 patients became ill. Staff at the Lincoln center met Monday to discuss when the center might reopen. DON'T MISS THESE PRIME COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES! Sealed Bid Real Estate Sale* Saturday, May 30th 10am-11am 509 N. 9th Over 7,000 square feet Heat in office and storeroom 2 overhead doors 11:30am-2:00pm 827 York Over 10,000 square feet 5.1 Acres Heat & A/C. in office 3 overhead doors * Properties shown prior to May 30th by appointment. * Sealed bids taken day of tour. * Owner reserves right to refuse all bids. Call Glenda Krug 825-5200 REALTOR I... 415 B. Iron • 82S-42OO • (BOO) H25-U2O6 k-.ll riftti iHjtffHjtHrfr •«.»•.' ttiHl affi*tr4

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