Infant Heart Recipient Dies After 9 1/2 Years

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Robbie Dean Cardin, who sparked a national debate on organ distribution and received a new heart when he was just 27 days old, died early Tuesday at age 9 1/2.

Robbie had awakened feeling sick during the night and was rushed to the hospital. There, doctors determined Robbie was rejecting the transplanted heart, which stopped at 4:45 a.m.

“It’s been 9 1/2 years, I thought it was clear sailing,” his mother, Trish, said Tuesday.

She pointed to a stack of schoolwork sitting on a living room table. “That’s his homework. Even last night he was working for today. And today he’s dead,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.


“It was unexpected,” said Dr. Erle Austin, a pediatric heart surgeon at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. “He was doing very well. The last time he was seen everything was normal.

“But we all have to recognize that anybody who has a transplanted organ, there is always the potential for rejection.”

Robbie underwent a heart transplant at Kosair on June 13, 1986, becoming the sixth infant in the country to get a successful heart transplant.

At the time, Dr. Constantine Mavroudis referred to Robbie as “Baby Calvin” in an effort to protect the family’s privacy.

However, the Cardins became involved in the debate over organ procurement when Robbie, although he was at the top of a nationwide donor list, lost a chance for a heart a week before his eventual transplant.