Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Transplants to continue while mix-up probed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

National Taiwan University Hospital vice superintendent Chang Shan-chwen, right, attends a press conference yesterday held by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative caucus at the legislature to report on the hospital’s transplant of organs from an HIV-infected donor.

Photo: CNA

The Department of Health will allow National Taiwan University Hospital to continue performing organ transplants before deciding on disciplinary action for negligence that led to the transplantation of five organs from a donor with HIV, an official said yesterday.

“Not until National Taiwan University Hospital explains how the mistake occurred will the department decide on the kind of punishment to be imposed,” Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) told a press conference at the legislature.

Shih said the hospital would be allowed to continue performing organ transplants before the punishment is determined.

The department will write a report within two weeks about what went wrong on Wednesday, after it was discovered that a transplant team had harvested organs from a 37-year-old donor surnamed Chiu (邱), who tested positive for HIV.

One of Chiu’s lungs, his kidneys and liver were transplanted on Wednesday into four patients at the hospital, while his heart was transplanted into another patient at National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan.

At the press conference called by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday, the hospital’s vice superintendent, Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), apologized on behalf of the hospital.

“The likelihood that the organ recipients will contract HIV/AIDS is very high ... We believe there is a 90 percent likelihood,” Chang said.

Chang said the hospital had introduced measures to prevent a recurrence to its standard operating procedures for organ transplants after conducting a review, -adding that officials would make sure those procedures are followed.

He said the hospital would transfer the 1,800 people awaiting organs to other medical institutions if its transplant surgery service is suspended as a result of the incident.

Deputy Minister of Health Chiang Hung-che (江宏哲) said the department had set up four teams to deal with the aftermath of the incident.

One of the four teams was tasked with finding out the causes of the mishap. Another, composed of psychologists, social workers, medical and legal experts, was tasked with assisting the five families affected by the incident. A third team was to consult with the hospital and National Cheng Kung University on medical issue, while the fourth was charged with responding to public inquiries and coordinating government agencies, Chiang said.

If the hospital is suspended from practicing organ transplant surgery, the department will make sure that the punishment does not affect the 1,800 patients on waiting lists, Chiang said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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