Local News

As Transplant Patient Clings To Life, Family Blames Hospital For Mistake

Posted February 17, 2003 10:07 a.m. EST

— A 17-year-old girl was still fighting for her life Saturday after an unsuccessful organ transplant.

Last week, Jesica Santillan had a heart and lung transplant at Duke Medical Center. Her body is rejecting those organs, and the family fears the hospital may be to blame.

It's a race against time to save Jesica's life.

Santillan had a heart and lung transplant one week ago.

"She had gone into acute rejection," said a family friend. "[The doctor] said he made a mistake and that he was sorry."

Jessica is a type O+. According to the family, the donated organs were type A - not a match.

The family said a mistake was made by the hospital.

Jesica needs another heart within a few days or she'll die.

Despite the problems, Jesica's mother is somewhat forgiving of the doctor.

"She feels that she's somewhat angry," said another family friend. "But she believes the doctor is trying very hard to do what he can to save her daughter."

Though time is running out for Jesica, her mother refuses to give up hope.

"A lot of hope," she said. "Nothing is impossible."

Duke hospital released a statement saying Jesica is once again on the national waiting list for new organs. The hospital says it continues to keep a careful eye on her and also is carefully examining all aspects of her care up to this point.

They hope to find a suitable donor soon.

For information about organ donation, transplants and the Jesica's Hope Chest, a foundation set up in Jesica Santillan's honor, see the following links:

  • Jesica's Hope Chest Foundation

  • Carolina Donor Services

  • Share Your Life: Coalition On Donation