August 30, 2011
Last week in Taiwan, five transplant recipients received organs from a deceased HIV-infected donor due to a lapse in operating procedures, the Taipei-based National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) announced on its website over the weekend.
NTUH said a transplant staff member believed he had heard the English word "non-reactive" during a briefing given over the telephone about the organ donor's HIV test. But "reactive," or HIV-positive, was in fact said. Information about the result was not double-checked as standard operating procedures require, NTUH said. "We deeply apologize for the mistake," said the hospital.
A Health Department team will investigate the transplants and decide on any penalties against NTUH, where four of the operations occurred, said Shih Chung-liang, a department official. One surgery, a heart transplant, was performed at the National Chengkung University Hospital (NCUH).
All the organ recipients are now receiving AIDS drugs, said an NTUH official, who spoke anonymously, lacking authorization to talk with the media. However, the recipients will probably contract HIV, and their treatment will be further complicated by the anti-rejection medications, said Yao Ke-wu, head of the health department in Hsinchu city, where the donor lived. The mistake could have been avoided had Taiwan mandated that NTUH ask his department for the donor's medical history, Yao said.
Some surgical staff who performed the transplants are worried about their own infection risk. Team members who transplanted the man's heart "were depressed, and on the verge of panic," said Lee Nan-yao, an NCUH physician.