Two more patients who received transplants from a donor likely infected with AIDS have tested positive for the virus in preliminary examinations, an official said Saturday.
Three people who received the 22-year-old donor's organs have died from the disease and another earlier tested positive for the virus.Doug Wilson, a spokesman for LifeNet Transplant Services of Virginia Beach, said two more possible AIDS cases were identified Friday in preliminary examinations. He would not say where the patients are or the exact nature of tissue they received.
Another patient will be tested soon and results will be available next week, Wilson said.
These three patients, as well as a Colorado woman who received a hip joint and who has tested positive for the virus, stood the greatest chance of carrying the infection, Wilson said.
Their transplant tissues were among eight not treated by one of three methods used to kill bacteria or viruses, Wilson said.
"Of greatest concern were four tissue grafts that were fresh frozen and not processed using ethanol, freeze-drying or irradiation," Wilson said in a statement Saturday.
LifeNet arranged for 52 pa-Please see DONOR on A4
tients to receive organs or tissues six years ago from a donor officials only recently learned may have been infected with AIDS.
The donor's body was tested twice for AIDS before any transplants were performed, Wilson said. Doctors believe the donor may have contracted the fatal disease so soon before his death that tests did not reveal the virus.
Wilson said 44 of the 52 tissue grafts were sterilized. The others were either too large for sterilization to be effective or could be damaged by such processes, Wilson said.
The hip joint, heart, kidneys and liver all fell into that category, he said.
LifeNet has not received any test results from hospitals where freeze-dried tissue was transplanted, Wilson said.
Jeff Nesbit, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, said the heart transplant patient died in August 1986, and the two kidney patients died in June 1988 and May 1990.
"They all died of AIDS-related conditions," he said. The liver patient died in 1985 of complications after surgery, he said.
Dr. Stephen M. Ayres, dean of medicine at the Medical College of Virginia, where the heart and kidney transplants were performed, said the hospital did not learn until Friday that the deaths were linked to infected transplants.
Transplants were done at 30 hospitals that Wilson has refused to identify because of patient confidentiality. Wilson said all hospitals were notified of the AIDS risk by late Thursday.
Nesbit said the chance of contracting the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion is estimated to be in the range of 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 153,000, and the risk from transplanted organs or tissues "is only somewhat higher than that."
The donor was identified by his mother as William Norwood of Dinwiddie, Va. He was a service station attendant and was shot and killed during an Oct. 21, 1985, robbery. The case hasn't been solved.
"They're not very interested in catching the person who killed my son. Now everyone is interested because of the AIDS thing," Bessie Rathbone said.