A Philadelphia jury, after a two-week trial and two days of deliberations, awarded $18.5 million to young Kelsey Keen in a case Robert Ross asserted involved a heart transplant that could have been prevented.

Kelsey underwent a heart transplant at the age of 6 when doctors at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children failed to consult a pediatric cardiac surgeon in a timely manner and failed to perform surgery on two benign tumors in Kelsey’s heart.

After Kelsey’s parents moved her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, diagnostic testing showed that a tumor had moved into the left ventricle, and a left ventricle mass was discovered. Doctors at Children’s Hospital performed the life-saving heart transplant on Kelsey, who now requires daily anti-rejection medication and yearly diagnostic testing for the rest of her life. Her 10-year survival chances are 60 percent, and her chances of living will decrease two percent each year thereafter.

A pivotal point in the trial came when Kelsey herself took the stand and spoke about the activities she can and cannot do, her medications and her desire to live as a normal child. While the significant verdict gave Kelsey and her family hope, Kelsey is not normal. She is reminded daily of those activities she cannot do because of the potential for infection and the subsequent rejection of her heart.

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