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5 patients get HIV-infected organs

AIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — One of Taiwan’s best regarded hospitals said HIV-infected organs were mistakenly transplanted into five patients after a hospital staffer misheard the donor’s test results by telephone.

The five are now being treated with anti-AIDS drugs, an official at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorised to deal with the media.

The hospital said on its website over the weekend the mistake occurred because a transplant staffer believed he heard the English word “non-reactive” on the donor’s standard HIV test, while the word “reactive” was actually given.

The information on the test result was given over the telephone and was not double-checked, as required by standard procedures, the hospital statement said.

“We deeply apologise for the mistake,” the hospital said.

The Health Department will look into the mistake and decide on possible penalties for NTUH, department official Shih Chung-liang said. If negligence was found to have caused the blunder, Shih said the hospital may have to suspend its transplant programs for up to a year in addition to unspecified fines.

The donor was a 37-year-old man who fell into a coma on Aug. 24 and his heart, liver, lungs and two kidneys were transplanted to five patients on the same day. NTUH said it transplanted four organs and the heart transplant was conducted at another hospital.


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