Hospital: 5 recipients of HIV-positive organs test negative

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Taiwan University Hospital announced on Thursday that the five transplant patients who received organs from an HIV-positive donor about one month ago have tested HIV-negative.

The hospital also said that the five HIV-positive organ recipients will continue to be given HIV-preventive medicine and will remain under observation.

"While the patient who received a lung from the HIV-positive donor is still in the intensive care unit and the kidney recipient remains hospitalized as well, the other three HIV-positive organ recipients have been discharged," said Chang Shan-Chwen, vice superintendent of Taiwan University Hospital.

Health authorities in Taiwan held a press conference Thursday and announced that Taiwan University Hospital had submitted medical treatment plans for the five victims, promising that all the medical treatment expenses for the five recipients will be shouldered by Taiwan University Hospital, and the hospital is discussing compensation issues with the relatives of the three recipients who have already left hospital.

Taiwan's health authorities on Thursday also released an investigation report, saying that there were human errors in the case. For instance, the medical staff notified the transplant team about the HIV test result via telephone, without any other notification or confirmation mechanism for such a risky test result.

Local health authorities also thought that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the transplant was incomplete.

Taiwan University hospital will be fined 500,000 New Taiwan dollars. Ko Wen-tse, the former head of an organ transplant task force at the hospital who took responsibility for the accident and resigned earlier this month, will face punishment as well.

The medical accident occurred on Aug. 24 when the transplant team at Taiwan University Hospital removed organs from a person who had been pronounced brain-dead at Hsinchu's Nanmen Hospital.

His heart went to a patient at Cheng Kung University Hospital while his liver, a lung, and two kidneys were delivered to four recipients waiting at Taiwan University Hospital.

Transplant team members at Taiwan University Hospital heard a lab member on the phone saying the test results were non-reactive, and proceeded to perform four transplant procedures.

Cheng Kung University Hospital took the Taiwan University Hospital transplant team's word that the organs were non-reactive and went ahead with the heart transplant.

Upon completing the transplant surgeries, medical staff pulled the donor's medical records and only then learned that he was HIV-positive.

The five HIV-positive recipients were given HIV-preventive medication the day after the transplant error was discovered.

Hung Chien-Ching, a doctor with Taiwan University hospital, said the five victims will be put under observation for at least half a year to make sure they are out of the risk of being infected.

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