Devin McQueen Gets Second Chance With Miracle Transplant Surgery

This was the fifth time they had set out from their home in New York because of one of these phone calls. The first four times the donor organ was either compromised or went to another child. This was the closest they'd come so far, but disappointment could happen again.

Dr. Stuart Kaufman, a pediatric gastroenterologist, explained the situation to the McQueens.

"I was trying to think of that baseball term -- on deck or whatever," he said.

And that meant that somewhere else in the building there was another child waiting for that same small intestine. The decision would come down to whose blood was a better match for it.

They didn't know yet, because that organ was still several states away.

Earlier in the day, a member of the Georgetown transplant team, Dr. Cal Matsumoto, rushed from Washington, D.C., to retrieve the organ from another state. He carried with him blood samples from Devin and the other patient.

"They mix the blood there and with the donor, and whichever blood is OK and does not have an adverse reaction to the donor blood, that is the patient we will use," he said.

Left unsaid is that the intestine was suddenly available in that other state because a child had died. A child whose identity and story remains unknown.

As they waited back at Georgetown, the McQueens wanted to hear that they would get the organ. But the room they sat in was haunted by other feelings.

"Your emotions are a little bit torn in every direction," Colleen said. "I am going to be devastated if we leave here today and we are not No. 1, but I am going to leave here feeling just as bad if we do get it for the family that got turned away today. There are so many emotions. And that poor donor family. You will spend the rest of your life being thankful that they chose really to save your kid's life. And they are at a time of sorrow."

'Perfect Organ' Means Joy for One Family, Heartbreak for Another

While the McQueens continued to wait at Georgetown, by 6:30 p.m. Matsumoto had removed the small intestine from the donor.

"The patient is being kept alive artificially through the use of a ventilator," he explained. "At an agreed upon time, we stop the heart, flush the organs with preservation liquids and put ice on all the organs all at once."

The clock starts ticking then, for how long an organ can be outside the body. "For intestines, we try to get it into another person, another human being, within 10 hours."

By 8:30 p.m., Matsumoto was heading back to Washington. The McQueens had hoped to hear something, and the wait was agonizing.

I was doing better this afternoon," Colleen McQueen said. "Right now, I am physically ill."

The small intestine arrived in Washington shortly after 10 p.m. And soon after, the test results arrived showing which patient would receive the organ.

Devin's blood was more compatible with the donor's, so he would get his new small intestine.

"You're going," Matsumoto told the McQueens, who were stunned by the news.

"We are going to get him downstairs and get him transplanted," Matsumoto said, as Colleen gave in to a sob. "This is good news."

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