Local News

Doctor Involved In Duke Transplant Mistake Saves Life Of Family's Infant Daughter

Posted February 21, 2003

— When Jesica Santillan's mix-up became headline news, one local family contacted WRAL. They wanted to tell us about their daughter's surgery performed by Dr. James Jaggers, who is part of the medical controversy.

Cynthia Toomey and her husband, Sean, said allowing Jaggers to operate on their daughter, Eleora, saved her life.

"As a mother, I was terrified to hand over my child to someone and let them cut her open," Cynthia said.

"What he basically did was he went into a heart [that was] the size of a walnut with a hole the size of a pea, and he fixed it in two hours," Sean said.

After hearing about Santillan's mix-up, the Toomeys said they felt compelled to talk about their positive experience with the surgeon.

"[He was] very professional, very calming. When your 7-week-old daughter is going through open-heart surgery, it's a very stressful event," Sean said.

The Toomeys said even before Eleora's surgery, they knew she was in good hands.

"He walked into the room and he sat down and he looked at me and told me how everything's going to be fine, that I didn't have to worry, and I believed him," Cynthia said. "He's a very honest and caring man. After the surgery he walked out, and I went and gave him a big hug."

Eleora's family said she is not out of the woods. They said medication controls her seizures, and she has yet to grow out of her kidney reflux disease, but they said they are counting their blessings.

The Toomeys also said ever since the surgery, Eleora has steadily gained weight, and she is sleeping through the night.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all