BOSTON - An accident that claimed the life of one person last week gave new hope to four others when a hospital performed four transplant operations using organs from a single donor.
The 12-hour procedure at Brigham and Women's Hospital on Friday involved five surgical teams, more than 100 people, and required such exquisite timing that Dr. David Sugarbaker, the hospital's chief of thoracic surgery, called it ''pushing the miraculous.''
The transplants of two lungs, a heart and kidney were made possible when one hospital turned down the donor's lungs, and the next four matches on the donor list happened to be patients at Brigham and Women's.
''It's serendipity as much as anything,'' said Dr. Scott Swanson, who handled one of the lung transplants.
The hospital first performed three transplants from the same donor simultaneously in December 1998, and was confident it could marshal the medical personnel needed to do four at once.
Sugarbaker compared the complicated process to ''a symphony of movement that requires all of the notes to be struck at the same time.''
The operations went off successfully, with all patients healthy and projected for normal recoveries.
Statistics are not kept on how many quadruple transplants have been performed. Officials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has performed more than 10,000 transplants, said doctors there had matched the feat four or five times.