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4 transplant patients test positive for HIV

(Shanghai Daily)

08:16, September 02, 2011

Four transplant patients at the Taiwan University hospital have tested positive for the HIV virus after receiving organs from a donor with HIV.

The patients received the lung, liver and two kidneys of the donor after he had been declared brain dead.

The situation regarding a fifth patient who received the donor's heart at the Cheng Kung University hospital was unknown last night.

The patient who had the lung transplant was found with the highest level of HIV, according to Taiwan's TVBS television channel.

The Department of Health said there had been three major mistakes made by the Taiwan University hospital - a mistake in the oral communication between laboratory staff and transplant coordinators, a failure to double check reports on paper or the computer system, and the failure of the transplant team to recheck test results.

Officials from the department went to the hospital on Wednesday to check its organ transplant procedures and asked for improvements within 24 hours.

Over the next month the hospital must report every transplant case and the department will carry out random checks.

The two hospitals have also been required to complete the treatment and care plan for the five recipients and award them compensation.

The hospitals have already been fined NT$150,000 (US$5,280) for violating AIDS prevention regulations.

The patients received organs from the man later found to have been an HIV carrier because the Taiwan University hospital in Taipei didn't follow standard operating procedures or thoroughly checked lab tests before performing the operations.

The 37-year-old donor was declared brain dead after a fall on August 24.

His family, none of whom knew about his infection, contacted the hospital with the offer of his organs for transplant.

A transplant team remove the man's heart, liver, lung and two kidneys. The heart was sent to the Cheng Kung University hospital for a male patient, while his liver, lung and kidneys were used at the Taiwan University hospital.

Taiwan University doctors checked the results of HIV tests on the organs with the hospital's lab staff by phone and reportedly heard a staff member saying the HIV test results were "non-reactive" while in fact they were "reactive," and proceeded to perform four transplant procedures.

Trusting the Taiwan University test results, the Cheng Kung hospital began its heart transplant without doing HIV tests.

The head of the organ transplant task force at the Taiwan University hospital has resigned, taking responsibility for the hospital's HIV-positive organ transplant accident, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

Ko Wen-tse was responsible for forming and managing the hospital's transplant task force and wrote the guidelines for the transplant team.

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