Settlement with the Santilláns


Nearly a year and a half after seventeen-year-old Jésica Santillán died from a botched heart-lung transplant at Duke Hospital, the result of mismatched blood types, Duke University Health System (DUHS) has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of money to her family. The terms of the settlement are to be kept confidential under court order.

Jésica Santillán, living in Mexico, was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, characterized by an enlarged heart that pressed on her lungs. After illegally immigrating with her family to the United States in search of new organs, she spent three years on the organ waiting list before receiving a new heart and lungs, which were transplanted at Duke in February 2003.

According to a statement from William J. Fulkerson, chief executive officer of Duke Hospital, "We believe the agreement the court has approved is fair and equitable for both the Santill·n family and for Duke.

"We mourn the death of Jésica Santillán and remain committed to learning from this tragedy to benefit others. Duke University Health System has established additional patient-safety programs to ensure that the procedural errors that occurred in this case cannot be repeated. Equally important, the safety of the nation's organ-transplant system has been significantly strengthened. All who will receive life-saving organ transplants in the future will benefit from these important changes."

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