Intense 'Waiting Game' for Family of Teen in Hospital Mix-up

Website dedicated to injured girl says progress 'very exciting.'

ByANDREA CANNING, KAITLYN FOLMER and LEE FERRAN via via logo
July 25, 2010, 6:55 PM

Aug. 5, 2010, 2010 — -- The teenage girl at the center of a tragic hospital mix-up is, after more than two weeks in the hospital, in stable condition but still unresponsive as the family maintains vigil at her side, a family member said today.

"It's kind of a waiting game at this point," 19-year-old Abby Guerra's aunt, Dorenda Cisneros, told ABC News. "We're hopeful. That's all we have."

In a statement posted on the website AbbysFightForLife.com Tuesday, the family said, "Abby's condition has stabilized, however is still unknown. She received a feeding tube in her stomach yesterday so the one from her mouth could be removed. For the first time, Abby's face is cleared from all the tubes. This is very exciting, especially, since her facial swelling is going down as well."

In July, Guerra, 19, was traveling home from Disneyland in California with four friends when the car in which she was riding blew a tire and rolled over. The hospital told Guerra's family that she had died in the accident and that her friend, Marlena Cantu, was fighting for life in the hospital. In fact, the opposite was true -- Cantu had been killed and Guerra was fighting for her life. The girl's injuries were so extensive that no one noticed the mistake.

For days, Cantu's family kept vigil by Guerra's hospital bedside, mistakenly believing their daughter was the one under the bandages. Days passed before they were told she was the one who had actually died.

"I'm really grateful for the Cantu family because they were at my daughter's side every day, taking care of her," Maria Guerra, mother of Abby Guerra, told "Good Morning America" last week. "I know they're going through a lot of pain because I went through it already. I just want them to be strong and really, give them all the support. ...They were taking care of my daughter."

Since Guerra's family was informed of the switch, they've scarcely left Guerra's bedside.

"They're hanging in there," Cisneros said.

Monday Guerra opened her eyes for the first time and was able to breathe by herself, though she needed supplemental oxygen.

"We're excited about that, anything we get we're extremely happy for," Cisnernos said. "Especially her breathing on her own, that was a big thing for us."

News of Mix-Up Confuses, Causes Anger, Gives Closure

Last week, on the day the family had scheduled Guerra's funeral, the Department of Public Safety offered an apology for the mix-up.

"Let me send to the families our sincere apologies from the Department of Public Safety," said Sgt. Kevin Wood, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Officials are reviewing the case because even though the women's injuries were extensive and they looked similar, there were several unique characteristics that could have tipped off hospital staff.

For instance, Cantu was two inches taller than Guerra, still had her wisdom teeth and had a scar on her abdomen from an appendectomy.

"You find yourself thinking: How can this be?" Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics told ABC News last week. "We have DNA testing. We have excellent dental records on many people. We have X-rays, all kinds of records kept on people. How can it be that we didn't identify someone a week later?"

"We're all angry at the situation," Guerra's cousin told ABC News affiliate ABC15 in Arizona after the hospital admitted the mix-up. "We could have been at her side, telling her to fight. It might have given her more strength."

CLICK HERE to visit AbbysFightForLife.com for information on Abby's condition and how to make donations to the family.

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