TV Alerts Man Heart, Lungs Were Waiting

United Press International

Doctors today transplanted the heart and lungs of a 38-year-old Las Vegas woman into a man who was summoned to the hospital by a televised emergency message during a Thanksgiving football game.

The operation on Terry May, 32, of Tempe, Ariz., was completed at 5:30 a.m., about 6 1/2 hours after the surgery began, said Nina Trasoff, a spokeswoman at the University Medical Center.

“The surgery went smoothly, but there were some complications,” Trasoff said. “There was a considerable amount of bleeding in the chest, but doctors were able to control it.”

She said May was listed in critical condition in the hospital’s cardio-thoracic unit.


The surgical team was headed by Dr. Jack Copeland, who performed a temporary artificial heart transplant for Michael Drummond of Cottonwood, Ariz., in September. Drummond, 26, survived with the Jarvik 7 unit for nine days before receiving a human heart transplant.

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rooney said May required the surgery because of a disease called pulmonary hypertension, in which the lungs do not function properly, causing the heart to deteriorate.

May had been a candidate for the surgery for more than a year, Rooney said.

The donor for May’s surgery was flown in from Las Vegas on Thursday night. She had been declared brain-dead after a fall at her home. May was alerted that a donor had been found Thursday evening through the use of a “crawl” line on a Phoenix television station.


When the hospital was unable to reach May at his home, they arranged with KTSP-TV to run the message, “Terry May: Call University Medical Center” along the bottom of the screen during a Dallas Cowboys-St. Louis Cardinals football game.

May was not watching television at the time of the notice but was alerted by his cousins’ neighbors.

“We had just turned off the TV,” said May’s sister, Valerie Kepler. “We were at our cousins’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. Our cousins’ neighbors saw the notice and came over to tell Terry.”