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17-year-old Jésica Santillán died 2 weeks after receiving the heart and lungs of a patient whose blood type did not match hers. Doctors at the Duke University Medical Center failed to check the compatibility before surgery began. . After a rare second transplant operation to attempt to rectify the error, she suffered brain damage and complications that subsequently hastened her death.

Santillán, a Mexican immigrant, had come to the United States three years before to seek medical treatment for a life-threatening heart condition. The heart-lung transplant that surgeons at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., hoped would improve this condition instead put her in greater danger; Santillán, who had type-O blood, had received the organs from a type-A donor.

The error sent the patient into a comalike state, and she died shortly after an attempt to switch the organs back out for compatible ones failed. The hospital blamed human error for the death, along with a lack of safeguards to ensure a compatible transplant. According to reports, Duke reached an agreement on an undisclosed settlement with the family. Neither the hospital nor the family is allowed to comment on the case.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

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