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Mexican Teen Dies After US Hospital Botches Transplant - 2003-02-23

A Mexican teenager who survived a botched heart-lung transplant in the United States, and then got a second set of donated organs, has died.

Jessica Santillan had a heart deformity that kept her lungs from getting enough oxygen. The teenager's family reportedly smuggled her into the United States three years ago in hopes of getting the transplant she needed.

On February 7, surgeons at Duke University Medical Center in the southeastern state of North Carolina performed a heart-lung transplant on Jessica with donated organs. But doctors implanted organs from a donor with a different blood type than Jessica's. Her body rejected them.

Doctors found a second set of organs within two weeks and performed another transplant, but it was too late. Jessica has been declared brain dead.

Saturday, a decision was made to take Jessica Santillan off life support. Transplant surgeon James Jaggers, who made the error, said everyone at Duke University was saddened. "I know that everybody at Duke mourns the loss of Jessica," he said.

Santillan family lawyer Kurt Dixon said Jessica's family was not given enough time to get a second medical opinion from an an outside doctor about whether the teenager was brain dead.

"Based on the outcome of these tests, and other examinations, Jessica's doctors have pronounced that Jessica has died," Mr. Dixon said.

Mr. Dixon says Jessica's family is devastated.