Entries in Transplant (33)


Quadruple Limb Transplant Patient Dies

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The Turkish man who would have been the world’s first recipient of a quadruple limb transplant died Monday after doctors had to amputate the limbs because of “metabolic imbalance,” the hospital said in a statement.

On Friday, Sevket Cavdar, 27, received two arms and two legs after a 20-hour operation at Hacettepe University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, to replace the limbs he lost in 1998 after he was electrocuted.

On Sunday, the doctors had to remove one leg when Cavdar’s heart and vascular system failed to sustain it. On Monday, they had to remove the other three limbs.

The Turkish Red Crescent, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, dispatched hundreds of blood units from around the country after Cavdar’s lead surgeon, Dr. Murat Tuncer, called for blood donations to avoid possible complications.

Dr. L. Scott Levin, president of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation, told ABC News that it was likely that Cavdar went into shock after the attached limbs were deprived of adequate blood supply and began releasing metabolites in his body that damaged his circulation.

Even a single limb transplant is extremely taxing for patients, and Levin said the effort to give Cavdar four new limbs was particularly bold.

“In these transplants, there may be a threshold that we cross in terms of how much of a burden we put on a patient when we try to do more than one limb at a time. Perhaps the limit is two extremities and perhaps not more,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Illegal Immigrant to Get New Kidney

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A dying California dad who was denied a kidney transplant because of his undocumented immigration status has been given a second chance at life.

University of California-San Francisco has agreed to operate on Jesus Navarro, an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

UCSF had originally denied surgery to Navarro in May after doctors found out he was in the country illegally, saying he couldn't provide adequate aftercare.

"UCSF was following its policy to make sure Mr. Navarro would continue to have the health insurance necessary to receive proper post-transplant follow-up," the hospital said in a joint statement from UCSF's chief medical officer, Dr. Josh Adler, and Navarro Thursday.

"Follow-up care is critical to transplant patients, who otherwise may lose the organ and become less healthy than they were on dialysis," the statement added. "UCSF regrets the misunderstanding and is committed to reviewing its processes to make sure that communication is consistent and clear with all patients, including Mr. Navarro. UCSF does not and will not discriminate on the basis of immigration status."

The decision came following a petition on that accumulated 130,000 signatures in support of Navarro's case.

The petition was started by Donald Kagan, a kidney transplant recipient whose kidney was donated by a Nicaraguan immigrant.

"Immigration status should never be a death sentence," Kagan said in a news release. said within days of the campaign launch Kagan had accumulated 130,000 supporters. He then went to UCSF Kidney Transplant Center with the petition, asking doctors to reconsider their decision.

"I am incredibly relieved that UCSF will give Jesus the kidney he needs to survive," said Kagan.

While supporters are thrilled at the recent decision, some immigration reform advocates say legal residents should be given preference when it comes to receiving an organ.

"Our view is that it is responsible to give preference to people in similar circumstances if they're citizens and legal resident of the United States," said Ira Mehlam, the national media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "This was a unique case, because he was getting a kidney directly from his wife."

Navarro, who has private health insurance, had reached the top of the donor list when doctors told him they couldn't operate. He is now expected to be at the top of the list again within three to six months.

"The success that Donald Kagan achieved in just a few days in his campaign to save a father's life demonstrates the power that each and every one of us have to make a difference," said Jackie Mahendra, director of organizing at

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coach Receives Miracle Organ Transplant

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Since he was diagnosed with cirrhosis five years ago, Ed Mooney knew that if he didn’t get a liver transplant soon he’d be in serious danger. “I probably had a million people ahead of me. My sister got denied as a donor, my brother had his paperwork in and if I didn’t [find] a donor in him, I basically was going to stay on a list, and my surgeon said I’d keep getting sicker and sicker,” Mooney told ABC News.

What the 52-year old baseball coach from Bergenfield, N.J., needed was a match -- in other words, a miracle. He just never thought the miracle would come from such a tragedy.

That’s where Dan Glover comes in. The 24-year old was a former star wrestler at Bergenfield High School and a player on Mooney’s Little League baseball team. “He wasn’t a big kid, but he was all heart.” Mooney said.

Glover died last week from injuries he endured in a car crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And thanks to an unbelievable twist of fate, his liver went to his former coach. “This makes me want to live for more than one person – for me and for Danny, and all the people who can see that miracles can happen,” Mooney said from his bed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Mooney hopes to return home this week. When he does, he’ll finally have a chance to talk to Glover’s family, a conversation he knows will be difficult for both sides. But Glover’s sacrifice will never be forgotten by Mooney, but he knows this isn’t about him. He says, “It’s about the selfless act of a young kid who wanted to give life to others.”

Glover’s organs went to at least 50 people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mentally Disabled Girl May Get Kidney Transplant After All

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Chrissy Rivera, the mother of the 3-year-old girl who was initially told by a doctor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that he would not recommend a kidney transplant for her mentally disabled daughter, is "hopeful" the hospital will help after an outcry of indignation online.

More than 37,000 online supporters petitioned after Rivera had blogged about a doctor who called her daughter "mentally retarded" and said he would not recommend transplantation.

Rivera met with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia doctors Friday to see if Amelia "Mia" Rivera, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, would be eligible for a kidney. It is up to a larger transplantation committee to decide if the girl qualifies.

"They are moving us through the steps," said Rivera, a 35-year-old New Jersey high school teacher who has two other children, ages 11 and 6. "It is not a 'yes' or a 'no' at this point. But, yes, I am hopeful."

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia had no immediate comment on these developments.

Mia's complex genetic disorder results in severe mental and physical impairments, and specialists have said that without a transplant, Mia would die within six months to a year.

"We had a positive meeting with the nephrologist and the head of nephrology and nursing," said Rivera. "They took us through the steps and told us the risks. No decision has been made, but it's a process...that anybody has to go through."

"I didn't see any red flags at the meeting," she said. The Riveras will meet again with doctors from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in March to review the girl's case.

In the meantime, Mia is "doing very well," said her mother. "She is very healthy."

The little girl's plight received national media attention when supporters petitioned the hospital through, which successfully battled Bank of America over its $5 debit card fee and Verizon over its online payment fee.

"The fact that CHOP [Children's Hospital of Philadelphia] is reconsidering Amelia's surgery is a remarkable testament to the potential of online campaigns to literally change people's lives," said Benjamin Joffe-Walt, spokesman for

"It's positive and awesome," said Rivera. "We definitely appreciate everything."

Rivera blogged about what she said was her daughter's transplant "rejection" two weeks ago.

The Riveras said a doctor at Children's Hospital had initially advised against a kidney transplant "because she was mentally retarded."

Rivera said the doctor also mentioned the medication that Mia would have to take for the rest of her life -- and "how important it was she take it -- and who would make her take it when we weren't around anymore?"

"Everyone should be treated equally," she said at the time. "This is outrageous."

When the media first reported the story two weeks ago, the hospital would not respond to questions about the Rivera case, citing privacy laws, but it provided a prepared statement, which read: "The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia does not disqualify potential transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual abilities. We have transplanted many children with a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual disabilities. We at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are deeply committed to providing the best possible medical care to all children, including those with any form of disability."

Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, caused by a missing part of the short arm of chromosome 4, occurs in about one in 50,000 live births. Disabilities can vary from child to child but can include seizures, hearing loss and eye malformations, as well as kidney, brain and skeletal abnormalities. Heart disease and frequent lung infections and immune deficiencies have also been reported.

Patients can be denied an organ transplant for a variety of reasons, according to the American Society of Transplant Physicians. Transplantation will not be offered to those would could be harmed by the surgery itself or by the immune-suppression that is required to prevent organ rejection.

Patients with weak immune systems or a high risk of infection, such as some children with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, cannot be immunosuppressed, according to those guidelines.

Some doctors have reported that patients with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome have difficulty with anesthetics, because their heads and mouths tend to be small, making it hard to place a breathing tube during surgery.

Patients with severe heart disease may have an unacceptably high risk during surgery. Also, those who are not expected to live five years may also be denied a kidney transplant.

Patients with severe intellectual disabilities may be considered for transplant if the benefits outweigh the potential harm, say the guidelines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kidney Donor Gives Organ to Stranger on a Whim

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Celia Oyler had never been in the hospital, never had a stitch and had never even taken a prescription drug.

But last June, the 55-year-old professor gave doctoral student John Young -- a virtual stranger -- her kidney, enduring every invasive test and eventually transplant surgery to save his life.

As Oyler tells it, her decision was rooted in compassion but executed on a whim last spring in the hallways of Teachers College Columbia University.

Oyler, director of inclusive education programs, is a white lesbian. Young, 49, is African-American and had just completed his doctorate in curriculum and teaching when they found they were a match last spring.

Live organ transplants, especially for African-Americans, are hard to come by. And Oyler was also fast approaching 60, when she would be deemed too old to donate.

Transplant experts say that "stranger" donors, though still small in numbers, are on the rise. Since 2000, they have jumped from 14 to 26 percent of all live donors, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

"I had seen John in the hall and I knew who he was, but didn't know him," said Oyler.

"I happened to see him standing there, and it was a little awkward," she said. "I asked him what he was doing and he said, 'Not much … because I have to do dialysis three or four times a week.'"

Young told her he had been cleared for an organ wait list and "maybe it would work out and after a few years I'll get a kidney on time."

"He's an extremely positive person and I am not," she said. "I am talking to this guy and I think maybe he is dying. So I very impulsively I said, 'What's your blood type?' And he said 0-positive and I said, 'Who knows, maybe we'll be a match.'"

They were -- and even learned their birthdays were a day apart.

"I didn't know her that well and was really taken aback that in just minutes she would make such a huge offer," said Young, who has now fully recovered and is off dialysis. "It was a tremendous obligation, and I was really shocked."

Oyler had always listed herself as an organ donor on her driver's license and all her family knew that she wanted her body parts used for science, but this was impetuous.

"I am kind of a jump-first, think-later person," she said.

When she returned home, Oyler realized, "What have I gotten myself into now?"

"I was actually nervous telling my wife I had made this impetuous offer," she said. "She always gives me a hard time. 'Celia, it's not like lending your car.'"

Every step of the way, the medical staff at New York's New York-Presbyterian Hospital told Oyler, "If you don't want to go through with this for any reason, we never tell the recipient, only that you're not a match."

But Oyler knew that once she had committed to Young, "I wouldn't be able to not do it."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 4,573 kidney patients died while waiting for a life-saving transplant in 2008. Of the 14,208 organs that were donated overall in the United States that year, less than half were live organ donors like Oyler.

"As a group, live donors work better and last longer than dead donors," said Dr. David Cronin, a transplant surgeon at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "It is taken alive and passed all the evaluations and we know it's a good kidney."

Young's kidneys had begun to fail when he was 47 because of high blood pressure and diabetes. That and end-stage kidney disease is more common among African-Americans because of genetic and social factors like access to health care, according to Cronin.

Young had a long difficult recovery -- the kidney was nearly rejected at the onset.

Oyler, who had a less-invasive laproscopic procedure, was up and feeling normal within days. The only physical reminder of her gift is a two-inch scar on her bikini line.

When they woke up Oyler in the recovery room, nurses wheeled her by Young. "It was one of those moments, I felt, 'Whoa, I helped this guy get a second lease on life.'"

Now, seven months later, both Oyler and Young have healed from surgery.

"It wasn't actually that bad," said Oyler.

Transplant experts agree there are no statistical disadvantages for donors, given that they are so healthy to begin with to pass screening.

Young said he is feeling "better and better" and is more conscious of what he eats, trying to control his diabetes."

Oyler is "crazy busy," but she plans to invite Young to dinner. They have begun regular email contact since the surgery.

"It's weird to think there is a piece of my body walking around in someone else's body," she said.

Now, she tells her story to anyone who will listen -- about the importance of live kidney donation. And Young, also inspired by her act of love, has decided he, too, will offer to be a donor.

That, said Cronin, is also possible as there is an overwhelming need for other organs like lungs, hearts, skin and corneas.

In the end, Oyler's wife and her parents supported her decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First U.S. Patient Gets Stem Cell Trachea Transplant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ABINGDON, Md.) -- Christopher Lyles, 30, of Abingdon, Md. exhausted the limited treatment options available in the U.S. for his tracheal cancer. But Lyles read about an experimental tracheal transplant procedure surgeons performed in Europe using adult stem cells. He reached out to Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, director of the Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who was the head surgeon in previous transplant cases.

After a 12-hour procedure in Sweden, Lyles was breathing through a lab-grown windpipe that doctors fashioned from his own stem cells.

Doctors regenerated tissue from Lyles' bone marrow stem cells to create a trachea biologically identical to Lyles' original organ. Lyle underwent the transplant in November and arrived back home Wednesday.

Within three months, Lyles was able to eat and speak on his own, he said.

According to Dr. Mark Iannettoni, head of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at University of Iowa, a trachea is a fragile organ because it is mostly cartilage, which has a poor blood supply.

"Once damaged, it is difficult to get it to heal correctly," said Iannettoni.

In June 2011, Lyles was diagnosed with a rare form of trachea cancer. Unlike some patients with the same condition, Lyle tumor extended below his thyroid gland and did not affect his voice box.

Trachea cancer is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation and attempts to replace the trachea with mechanical devices have not been effective.

Lyles first underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation treatment between July and September.

Using a patient's own stem cells not only could help to rebuild the fragile tissue, but also potentially could bypass the risk of having the organ rejected, according to Dr. Eric Lambright, surgical director of lung transplant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved with the procedure.

"These patients [are] otherwise sentenced to rather significant horrible quality of life related to their tumors and heroic measures may indeed be very appropriate," said Lambright.

After surgery, Lyles contracted pneumonia in both lungs, which slowed his recovery.

The experimental procedure, not covered by medical insurance, cost between $300,000 to $600,000, Lyles said. The family asked for at least  $300,000 in a donation through the non-profit organization Help Hope Live, which works to fund uninsured transplant-related expenses.

Macchiarini and his surgical team have been performing the transplants since 2008, when they transplanted a trachea using adult stem cells on a woman who suffered from tuberculosis. The procedure was first implemented on patients with tracheal cancer in August 2010.

While the procedure seemed to have worked in a few patients, many experts said the method is still in the earliest stages of development.

Macchiarini said this procedure could pave the way for other challenging transplants including the heart valve, chest wall, lungs and the esophagus.

"We need to be very cautious and don't make hope for patients with cancer, because this is experimental," said Macchiarini. "But so far the patients have had incredible results for an untreatable cancer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five-Second Rule? Medics Drop Heart but Transplant Proceeds

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- During a moment caught on tape that is sure to make a few cringe, medics in Mexico are seen bumbling, then dropping, a heart on the ground intended for a 20-year-old female heart recipient.

Medics arrived at the Mexico City hospital by helicopter dragging a blue rolling cooler. They are seen running toward a hospital entrance, as reporters stand outside, documenting the transfer. Amid the rush, one medic trips, catching the cooler with his foot. The cooler then flips, spilling its contents, including the organ (wrapped in yellow plastic) onto the ground. The medics hastily put the heart back into the cooler before running inside.

The head of Mexico’s Institute of Social Services said the drop did not affect the organ and the procedure continued on despite the stumble.  Doctors who conducted the transplantation reportedly want to wait 72 hours before confirming that the surgery was a success.

“Because it would have been under multiple other sterile layers and seemed to be nearly at the point of the planned transplant it is very unlikely to have had any significant adverse impact beyond embarrassment,” said Dr. Stephen Bartlett, chairman in the department of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “They were appropriately hurrying.  Bungee cords around the cooler can help keep the cooler closed during times when things are bouncing around in turbulence in the helicopter and when they are running.  No harm done but this will stay on Youtube for a while.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Full Face Transplants: A Cutting Edge Closer Look

Face transplant recipient, Dallas Wiens, speaks at a press conference with Dr. Bohdan Pomahac (L) in Boston, Massachusetts in May 2011. Adam Hunger/AFP/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Surgeons lift the face off one person and transplant it onto another person. Sounds like a scene out of a John Travolta and Nicholas Cage movie.

But when Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery and transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, performed the first full face transplant in the nation, he transformed a science fiction concept into reality.

Now, he says, there's no going back.

"I think it's important for people to realize this is becoming a reproducible technique," said Pomahac.

Pomahac recalled feeling uncertain about the procedure when he received the file of his first patient in need of a full face transplant. Dallas Weins, 25, a construction worker from Dallas, Texas suffered severe burns to his face two and a half years ago when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a high voltage power line.

After 22 surgeries, Wiens was left with a face void of features, except for a lipless mouth and a goatee. Even his eye sockets were smoothed over with skin taken from other parts of his body.

Pohomac looked at the chart of the potential face transplant recipient and thought the risks were high.

"I was worried the defect was too extensive," said Pohomac. "I was worried that his nerves were damaged to the point that we wouldn't be able to reconnect them."

But Wiens was young, and his face could be repaired back to the way it was should something go wrong.

"We don't want patients to end up with worse deformity than before if the face is rejected," said Pohomac.

There was even a donor face that matched, so he became the perfect candidate for the procedure. Screening and preparation took months.

"It's the most extensive consenting I've ever done," he said.

Since 2005, 18 patients have received facial transplants, most of them designed to restore partial face defects. But Weins' case became the first procedure out of three Pomahac performed this year to replace a full face.

Pomahac called the novel technique a "unique way to simplify anatomy." Facial tissues are extracted from the donor as one block, including the skin and underlying muscles and nerves and reconnected to the recipient. In Wiens' case, the nasal bone was also transferred.

Pomahac reports on Wiens and the two other full face transplant patients in an article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Within four hours, the patients recovered sensation and movement in their faces.

"All patients had postoperative infections of differing severity, and they all recovered," the authors wrote. But the procedure is not exactly science fiction come to life.

The surgeons expected the recipients wouldn't look like themselves before their injuries, and they also expected that the facial changes they would experience as their new faces molded onto their frames would keep them from looking like their donors.

"We anticipated that the underlying skeleton and facial volume would shape the final facial appearance, making resemblance to the donors unlikely," the authors wrote. "It is our subjective opinion, as well as that of two of the donor families, that the patients do not look like their donors."

With each patient, the surgeons refined their technique to cut down on the small revisions that were originally necessary after the initial surgery.

Each patient's surgery was described in separate televised press conferences that Pomahac says may have made the procedure seem like isolated cases that were difficult to reproduce. But his team is working to make the procedure accessible. Pomahac said one patient is now listed for the transplant and waiting for a suitable donor.

"We can do it now so much better than the first cases," said Pomahac. "The extent of how it will be used is undetermined, but it's here to stay."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


FDA Approves Berlin Heart for Kids

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Berlin Heart for pediatric patients waiting for heart transplants. The ventricular assist device is similar to the one worn by former Vice President Dick Cheney but scaled down for children and babies.

"Without that device I wouldn't have my son," said Traci Shaffer, whose 9-year-old son Lane survived 16 months on the Ohio transplant waiting list because of the Berlin Heart.

Lane was born with a defect that caused his heart to swell and eventually fail. With no donor heart on the horizon, Lane needed a Berlin Heart. But because it was still unapproved in the U.S., it was hard to get.

"The doctors said, 'This is experimental, it's not FDA-approved, and here's the thing: You might not even get it in time,'" said Shaffer, who lives in Philadelphia, Ohio.

Lane's doctors had to ask the FDA for emergency access to the Berlin Heart under a provision called compassionate use. Only after approval could they order the device from Germany, bringing the wait time up to seven days.

"The child has to be on death's door before you can even apply for it," said Shaffer, adding that Lane was given seven-to-10 days to live when they started the process. "We've seen kids that couldn't wait seven days. It's very scary."

Lane weighed 35 pounds when his Berlin Heart arrived at the Cleveland Clinic in May 2010 -- his ribs visible through pale skin as he lay curled up in the fetal position. But after the nine-hour procedure to implant the device, Lane started to improve.

"Immediately after the surgery I could see the color of his skin had changed," said Shaffer. "His feet were no longer white and cold; they were pink and warm. His cheeks were rosy. That was the moment when you say, 'This is working.'"

The FDA's decision to approve the Berlin Heart means hospitals can stock the device in a range of sizes -- from walnut-size pumps for babies to fist-size pumps for teens.

"I will sleep better knowing there's a Berlin Heart sitting here in the Cleveland Clinic," said Dr. Gerard Boyle, a pediatric cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "In the middle of the night, if we have a device here we can support the patient immediately."

The Berlin Heart is a temporary fix, though. Like Lane, kids who receive it will ultimately need a heart transplant.

"For families with a child who needs a heart transplant -- and there are enough of those -- we can say, 'We'll try to get a heart, but while we wait we have a plan,'" said Boyle. "This device gives us confidence that the number of patients who die waiting will decline dramatically."

Lane used the Berlin Heart until December 2010, when his parents got the call that his new heart had been donated.

Now Lane weighs 75 pounds, loves sports and motorcycles and is "eating his family out of house and home," according to his mom. But he's not out of the woods yet. He'll have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life, and he might eventually need another heart transplant.

But Lane, the boy with the "biggest blue eyes and smile you have ever seen," is staying positive and living life to the fullest, Shaffer said.

"I couldn't wait to tell him about the FDA approval because it's something he's been praying for and wanted since day one," said Shaffer, describing her phone call to Lane when she heard the news. "He screamed in my ear and said, 'You're kidding me! No more kids have to die, mom!'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Liver Transplant Can Give Some Alcoholics a Second Chance

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Early liver transplantation can improve survival in patients with a first episode of severe alcoholic hepatitis who aren't responding to medical therapy, according to a study by French researchers released Wednesday.

A six-month abstinence from alcohol is usually required before patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis are considered for liver transplantation, but some doctors want to rethink the rule.

Only 30 percent of those who do not respond to treatment live beyond six months and most die within two months, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

With supportive families, no other severe medical conditions and a commitment to future abstinence, patients can do well, the study revealed.

But study authors say that although early liver transplantation is "attractive," many doctors are reluctant to treat patients with alcoholism because they are "responsible for their illness" and are likely to resume drinking.

Alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, is a potentially fatal condition that can be a "red flag" that cirrhosis of the liver may soon follow, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).  The NIAAA says up to 70 percent of all alcoholic hepatitis patients will develop cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver that is a major cause of death in the United States.

But those who stop drinking can have a complete recovery from alcoholic hepatitis and a liver transplant can save their lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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