Atty: Organ
Recipient Not Told Donor Was High Risk for HIV

Atty: Organ
            Recipient Not Told Donor Was High Risk for HIV

A woman in her
30s who is one of the four organ transplant patients
infected with HIV and hepatitis was not told that the
infected donor was high-risk, her attorney said.

Attorney Thomas
Demetrio filed a petition Thursday in Cook County,
Ill., circuit court on behalf of the woman, asking
officials to keep a hospital and an organ procurement
center from destroying or altering any records
involving the donation.

''She's really a
mess right now,'' Demetrio said of the Chicago-area
woman. ''She's still in shock.''

The patient,
identified in court documents as Jane Doe, received a kidney
transplant at the University of Chicago Medical Center on
January 9, Demetrio said.

Gift of Hope
Organ & Tissue Donor Network in Elmhurst, Ill., and
the University of Chicago both knew the kidney donor was
high-risk and did not inform the patient, Demetrio

University of
Chicago spokesman John Easton responded in an e-mail: ''We
believe we follow guidelines, and of course with the
patient's consent we will provide necessary records
and documents, as is consistent with our open

Gift of Hope did
not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The woman had
been told the donor was a healthy young man, her attorney
said. But on Tuesday, hospital officials disclosed to the
woman that he was actually high-risk, a 38-year-old
gay man, Demetrio said. CDC guidelines say that gay
men who are sexually active should not be used as
organ donors unless the patient is in imminent danger of

The woman was
told she had HIV and hepatitis on November 1, he said.

''The [organ]
procurement group knew, the hospital knew, but the most
important person did not know,'' he said. ''The people that
dedicate their lives to these transplant surgeries,
they're just great people, but they need to bring the
patient into the mix and let them make an informed

U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention guidelines were violated
twice, the attorney said. One violation was not informing
the woman about the donor's status and then not
testing her afterward for HIV until just recently,
after HIV and hepatitis were found during tests on another
patient who was being evaluated for a second transplant.

The woman had
been ''doing great'' on dialysis and had been on the donor
waiting list for over six years, Demetrio said. In fact, she
had rejected a potential donor two years ago ''because
of his lifestyle," according to Demetrio. The
woman had developed renal failure seven years ago, but
Demetrio did not know what caused it.

"The transplant
took very well. She'd been bumping along, Demetrio
said. ''Then she gets this phone call on November 1.''
She was then started on an HIV drug regimen ''and,
unfortunately, one of the side effects is it's not
good for the kidneys,'' Demetrio added. She's not
currently hospitalized.

Four patients
received organs in January at three Chicago hospitals from
a donor who died after a traumatic injury. The donor had
engaged in high-risk behaviors, according to a
screening questionnaire, but standard testing showed
the donor did not have AIDS or hepatitis C.

Gift of Hope
tested the organs and approved them for donation, telling
the three hospitals that they came from a high-risk donor.

Several months
later, when one of the patients was being evaluated, blood
tests showed the patient had HIV and hepatitis C. The other
three patients were notified and tested, showing they
had both viruses.

The CDC says it's
the first time ever that both viruses were transmitted
simultaneously through an organ transplant. It's also the
first known time since 1986 that HIV was transmitted
through organ donation. (AP)

Tags: Health, Health

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