Monday, November 12, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

Stormie Jones, 13, World's First Heart-Liver Transplant Recipient


PITTSBURGH - Stormie Jones, the world's first heart-liver transplant recipient, died yesterday at age 13 after a six-year struggle that inspired well-wishers across the country.

The Texas teen-ager was flown to Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital from Dallas late Saturday after she complained of flu-like symptoms. At the hospital, Stormie deteriorated throughout the morning and died at 9:52 a.m., said Dr. Jorge Reyes, a staff physician.

``She deserved more,'' said Teresa Millikan, a family friend who spearheaded efforts to raise money for Stormie's hospital expenses. ``She was God's walking angel. She touched so many people's hearts.''

Within hours of her arrival at the hospital, Stormie's blood pressure dropped, Reyes said. She became lethargic, then suffered a heart attack, he said. Doctors tried for more than an hour to resuscitate her.

``Things happened with incredible speed,'' hospital spokeswoman Lynn McMahon said.

A preliminary autopsy performed yesterday was inconclusive, she said.

Stormie was 6 when she received a heart and liver in a historic transplant operation Feb. 14, 1984. The operation was necessary because she was born with a condition that put her cholesterol levels at 10 times normal.

Hepatitis damaged that liver and this year she returned to Pittsburgh and received a second liver Feb. 20. In July, she was again treated for hepatitis, which damaged her second transplanted liver.

Stormie, of the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement, and her mother, Lois Purcell, left Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Saturday evening.

Millikan said Saturday that Stormie had not been feeling well since midweek.

Her daughter, Crystal, who was Stormie's best friend, said the ailing girl never felt comfortable under the media's glare and wanted more than anything to feel like a normal teen-ager.

``She wished everybody would treat her normal instead of like she had an operation, because she didn't like everybody asking her how she felt or if she was feeling OK,'' Crystal said, tears welling in her eyes.

``Nobody in the world was as sweet or kind as her. There'll be nobody like her,'' she said.

Stormie once bought a book on Chinese to help her communicate with a 3-year-old Chinese fellow patient.

``She did that kind of thing all the time,'' said McMahon, the hospital spokeswoman. ``She was just so highly regarded by other children. She went to great length to take the time to play with them and talk with them.''

McMahon said the staff planned a memorial service. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


Get home delivery today!