Taiwan hospitals fined for transplanting HIV organs

By Cai Wenjun  |   2011-8-31  |     ONLINE EDITION

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TWO Taiwan hospitals that put five transplant patients under HIV infection risk were fined TW$150,000 (US$5,280) each by the Taiwan health authorities yesterday.

The Department of Health will announce the full investigation results into Taiwan University hospital and the Cheng Kung University hospital within two weeks.

If any transplant recipient tests HIV positive, officials from the hospitals may face jail sentences of between three and ten years, according to United Daily News in Taiwan.

Each of the patients received an organ from a man who was later found to have been an HIV carrier, because the Taiwan University hospital in Taipei didn't follow standard operating procedures or thoroughly check lab test results before performing the operations.

The health authority will also deploy expert teams to conduct secret investigations at the two hospitals to scrutinize their organ donation and transplant procedures and recommend further punishments if any defects are found.

The two hospitals are also required to complete the treatment and care plan for the recipients as well as award them compensation.

The 37-year-old organ donor was declared brain dead after falling last Wednesday.

His heart was sent to the Cheng Kung University hospital for a male patient, while his liver, lung and kidneys were used in transplant surgeries 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 that the HIV test results were "non-reactive" while in fact they were "reactive" and proceeded to perform four transplant procedures.

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

The mistake was found after the transplants had been completed and the transplant team collected the lab paperwork.

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