Four transplant patients at three Chicago hospitals contracted HIV after receiving organs from a single organ donor in what the Health Resources and Services Administration said is the first known transmission in the U.S. since 1986. The donor was registered through the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, an Elmhurst, Ill.-based organ-donation service.
Representatives for 776-bed Northwestern Memorial Hospital and 674-bed Rush University Medical Center confirmed that each facility had a single patient who contracted both HIV and hepatitis C after receiving organ transplants. A representative at 588-bed University of Chicago Medical Center confirmed that two of its patients contracted HIV and hepatitis C.
In a written statement, Gift of Hope said it performed standard tests for HIV and HCV according to appropriate guidelines as required by HRSA's Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is likely that the donor was in a "window period" before the screening tests could indicate the presence of disease, the statement said.
There have been about 350,000 organ transplants in the U.S. since 1994, the same year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on reducing the risk of contracting HIV through transplants, according to representatives at the HRSA and the United Network for Organ Sharing in Richmond, Va.
Separately, the New York State and Nassau County health departments notified more than 600 patients that they should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. The warning came after an investigation found that hepatitis C was transmitted between at least two patients likely through reused syringes, according to the state health department. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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