September 2, 2011
The head of Taiwan University Hospital's organ transplant team has resigned in the wake of transplant-related HIV exposures there in recent weeks. Ko Wen-tse, who was responsible for forming and managing TUH's transplant team, took responsibility for the error, which resulted in five patients receiving organs from a deceased donor who had HIV.
TUH transplant team members relied on information from their coordinator, given over a telephone, in which they heard the donor was "non-reactive." HIV test results were usually recorded in English. Without double-checking the test results on a computer database, TUH's transplant team subsequently performed surgeries involving four organ recipients, local media reported. Another organ from the infected donor was used for a surgery at Cheng Kung University, where their transplant team allegedly took the TUH team's word that the donor was non-reactive.
Only after the surgeries were complete did a review of medical records reveal the mistake. TUH publicly announced it had committed the error on Aug. 27.
TUH said all the organ recipients involved are currently receiving medical treatment and care. The hospital asked the general public to respect the privacy of all involved.
The Taipei prosecutor's office is investigating the situation. Meanwhile, island health officials already performed a spot-check at TUH and advised it to adopt a warning system for important medical tests. The TUH transplant team is now required to communicate HIV test results in Chinese.