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Statement From Dr. James Jaggers Concerning Jesica Santillan


Duke Health News 919-660-1306

The following statement is provided to the media from James Jaggers, M.D.:

"Today our focus is on the Santillan family. Our heart goes out to them as we mourn the loss of Jesica. I've known Jesica since May of 2002. Jesica had a fatal heart condition, one that would have taken her life within months if had she received a heart and lung transplant."

"Despite the thousands of patients each year that could benefit from a transplant, only about 30 receive heart and lung transplants a year. The rest of these patients that are on the waiting list die before ever receiving organs."

"Earlier this month when we received a call about Jesica, I had hoped she would be one of those lucky ones. This process of organ donation is a very complicated oneā€”one in which there's many institutions, many organizations, and many steps. At each step, there is an individual, and individuals can make mistakes. Unfortunately in this case, a mistake was made."

"As Jesica's surgeon, I take responsibility for those errors and I take responsibility for the entire team. After the first transplant, I spoke to Jesica's family and told them of this error, but then I did everything possible to save Jesica's life, including another heart and lung transplant. Many people at Duke aided me in this process, including the pediatric ICU staff and the other transplant surgeons."

"I know that everybody at Duke was behind us. I know that everybody at Duke mourns the loss of Jesica. I hope that we and others as we go through this process can make it a safer one, and one that will benefit even more patients. One that will encourage organ donation. To do otherwise would dishonor Jesica and dishonor her memory."

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