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Latest Transplant 'the Hardest'

Latest Transplant 'the Hardest' image
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Gerald K. Rector, 43, of Livoma became Michigan's third neart transplant in a seven-hour operation which began at 10:40 last night in University Hospital. Dr. Roger B. Nelson, senior associate director of the U-M hospital, told reporters at a press conference this morning that the Livonia man is doing "just fine" with his pulse and blood pressure "normal." Rector received the heart of Roland J. Hoag, 24, of Westland who was brought to Ann Arbor from Wayne County General Hospital where he underwent unsuccessful surgery for a cerebral aneurysm (weakening of the wall of a blood vessel in the brain) last week. Near death when brought to University Hospital, H o a g ' s brain wave tracing became flat at 9 p.m. Saturday, indicating no life, but a respirator was used to maintain breathing on the remote chance that he might revive. But he failed to revive and was prooounced dead at 10:40 p.m. yesterday. Rector, a heavy equipment engineer until an enlarged heart made it impossible for him to work two years ago, was admitted to University Hospital on Jan. 6 for the purpose of receiving a new heart when a donor became available. He and his wife, Virginia, have a daughter, Terry Lynn, 15, a ninth grade honor student at Clarenceville High School in Livonia. Dr. Nelson told reporters that the latest heart transplant operation took about two hours longer than the two previous heart transplants at University Hospital, because of the recipient's greatly enlarged heart. The chief surgeon on the transplant team, who is unofficially reported to be Dr. Donald R. Kahn, U-M associate professor of surgery, was quoted in a hospital news release as saying "it was the hardest one we'vë done" because of the difference in size between the diseased heart and the donated heart. The U-M transplant team has requested anonymity. He also was quoted as saying soon after surgery that Rector was in the same condition at that point as Philip T. Barnum, 49( of Kalamazoo and Donald L. Kaminski, 38, of Alpena were after receiving new hLtfkmt Universitv Hospital. "He is very well. He is doing fine," the surgeon was quoted as saying. Dr. Nelson t o 1 d reporters that "Barnum is back at work on a part-time basis and is doing quite well. Kaminski is doing very well, can now run up four flights of stairs and has been traveling north on ice fishing trips." Barnum received the heart of Herman Opdenhoff, 37, of Pontiac in Michigan's f ï r s t heart transplant on Sept. 20 at University Hospital. Kaminski received the heart of Robert J. Pushmari, 22, of Fenton on Dec. 2 at the local hospital. The donor in last night's transplant operation was married on Oct. 9, 1967. He and his wife, Roberta, have no children. A former U.S. Navy machinist's mate until last June, he was employed as a product technician ;by the Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn until his recent illness. Hoag was admitted to Wayne C o u n t y General Hospital on March 10 after complaining oí se veré headaches. Rector helped build Willow Run Airport in 1941, and had since worked on construction of 1-94, 1-96, 1-75, and other heavy construction jobs in Michigan. He was born on May 4, 1925 in Kalamazoo. An avid horse rider and owner of riding horses, he met nis wife at a rodeo where he was; doing bareback bronco riding , bulldogging and calf roping as a weekend hobby. Both he and his daughter are motorcyclists.. Dr. Nelson told reporters there was "a very good match w i t h n o incompatibili'ty" between the tissue of Rector and the donor. After Hoag's brain wave indicated no life on Sfaturday, blood and tissue samples of the prospective donor and recipiënt were flown to Los Angeles, Calif., for crossmatching by the world's foremost experts in the fieM, he said. Tissue matching also was done at the U-M Medical Center. "A kidney transplant f rom the donor of the heart had also been authorized, but we didn't have a kidney recipiënt in the house," Dr. Nelson said. Mrs. Hoag, who gave her permission for the transplant, said her late husband "would have wanted it this way. He was the sort of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He was a very kind hearted guy." The donor had expressed interest in the previous heart transplants at University pital 'but had never specifically said .'he would like to dónate his hear't, Dr. Nelson said. He was pronouneed dead by a neuirosurgeon, a neurologist, and an EEG (brain wave) expert, none of whom were on the: operating team. This is the same procedure followed in the two previous transplants, the h'ospital's associate director said. A 23-member team took part ïn the operation which ended at 5:40 a.m. today, 14 on the recipient's side and nine on the donor's side, Dr. Nelson said. _ Rector will remain in the University Hospital c a r d i a c recovery room for several days, and then be moved io the laminar air-flow room in the hospital's Clinical Research Unit. This room has a specially filtered air system which changes the air about 600 times an hour as a precaution rgainst airborn bacteria, he notel An endotracheal tube and respirator are being used for the first 24 hours of recovery to assist the recipient's breathing. Steroids and immuran are being used to combat possible rejection. In addition, U-M surg e o n s removed Rector's thymus gland which produces cells that promote rejection of foreign tissue implanted in the body. Dr. Nelson told reporters there had been "no evidence of rejeeüon with either Barnum or Kaminiski" as a result of the techniques used. Asked how many potential heart recipiënt s had died because a donor wasn't available, he said, "I only know of two who have died while waiting for a heart transplant" at University Hospital." The U-M's chief heart transplant surgeon was quoted as saying that without a new heart, Rector could not have survived outside the hospital. "In the hospital, he might have had a month to live without a new heart, but this is never certain. "He might have lived for two m o n t h s , or died w i t h i n a week," he added.