Heart-Lungs Patient Dies From Infection

February 15, 2008
Mairen Alvarez, who made history last month as the first adult to undergo a heartand-lungs transplant in Costa Rica, has died from infection, doctors said. She was 21.
She died Sunday at 8:14 a.m. after suffering from septic shock from a severe bacterial infection, Luis Paulino Hernández, director of San José’s Calderón Guardia Hospital, told The Tico Times.
Her passing occurred despite successful multiple operations, Hernández said. “The surgery was a success. Mairen was with us one month and during that time she regained consciousness, began eating and breathing by herself. Her heart was working well,” he said.
Alvarez sought the multiple transplants after she was diagnosed with lung distress that affected the right side of her heart.
A 23-year-old road accident victim in early January became her organ donor.  
It was the second heart transplant – and the first heart-lungs transplant – in the country, Hernández said.
“The patient’s clinical condition began to worsen last Friday, which forced us to use antibiotic medicine to fight the infection,” the hospital director said.
“Regrettably, because of her suppressed immune system, a common condition in (transplant) patients, it was difficult to save her.”
Despite the loss, Hernández urged people to consider becoming organ donors. “The problem of transplants will continue and we hope that Costa Ricans donate their organs because there are patients suffering from illnesses that can only be cured by an organ transplant.”
 
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