Organ transplant patients warned of bacteria contamination risk
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Friday 30 March 2012
A global alert was issued yesterday after a solution used to transport most organs for transplant was found to be contaminated with bacteria.
The Department of Health said there was "no evidence" of problems in patients who had recently had transplants but it was "working urgently" to source alternative products.
Bristol Myers Squibb announced a "precautionary recall" of the solution, Viaspan, after tests showed it may have been contaminated since last July. The fluid, made in Austria, is used to keep kidneys, livers and pancreases fresh while they are being transported and is used in many countries including the UK.
Kidneys can be transported in a different solution but patients awaiting liver and pancreas transplants face the continued threat of infection with the contaminated solution as there is no alternative.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Government's chief medical officer, said last night that patients receiving transplants kept in the solution should be treated with antibiotics.
"There is currently no evidence of any problems in patients who have recently had transplants where Viaspan has been used," she said.
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