Medicine: The Hearts of the Matter

A drama of domino donors unfolds in Baltimore

The countdown started around midnight at Baltimore's University of Maryland Hospital. At that hour doctors began the delicate task of removing the heart and lungs from a 32-year-old victim of a car accident declared brain dead several hours earlier. Working swiftly, they excised the organs, chilled them to 45 degrees F and transported them across town to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Clinton House, 28, a refrigeration mechanic whose lungs were ravaged by cystic fibrosis, had been summoned from his home and was being wheeled into the operating room. He had waited a year for this moment. In a room ten yards away,...