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Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2001

Damage to donated organ forces postponement of lung, liver, heart surgery

December 16, 2001

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— A 19-year-old woman returned home to wait for a new donor Saturday after her plans to undergo a rare triple transplant were canceled because a donated lung had been damaged.

Brandy Stroeder, who has been fighting the Oregon Health Plan for the right to a lung, liver and heart transplant, had been flown early Friday to the hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., for the surgery after learning about the available organs.

She had been in the hospital for several hours undergoing tests in preparation for the surgery Friday when the transplant was called off.

"She came in, she underwent the evaluation and was in good condition. Unfortunately and this is not uncommon once the organs were retrieved, they were not viable," said hospital spokeswoman Ruthann Richter.

Stroeder has cystic fibrosis, a disease that chokes her lungs with mucus and causes other organ damage. Without a transplant, Stroeder would likely die within two years. She now relies on an oxygen tank to breathe.

Christine Pashley, a spokeswoman for Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland where Stroeder has received care, said Stroeder had arrived early Saturday afternoon in Portland.

"Obviously, it's a very difficult time for Brandy right now," Pashley said. "You never know how long it's going to be (until the next donor) and that's the hard part."

Only three heart-lung-liver transplants have taken place in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Last year, the Oregon Health Plan, which provides health insurance to Oregon's poor, refused to pay for the transplant for Stroeder, saying the operation was experimental. The transplant could cost more than $250,000.

Stroeder, who is from McMinnville, about 20 miles southwest of Portland, has said getting the state to pay for the transplant is a matter of principle she wants those who come after her to have an easier time getting the health care they need.

The Oregon Appeals Court has not ruled in her case.

A community effort led by millionaire motel magnate Mark Hemstreet has raised $300,000 toward her medical costs.

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