NEEDLE BABY TO UNDERGO HIV TEST

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The Independent Online
BY LIZ HUNT

Medical Correspondent

The new-born baby allegedly discharged from hospital with a needle inside him is to undergo blood tests for the HIV and hepatitis viruses.

There are fears that the one-and-a-half inch needle may have been contaminated with blood from another source, according to Adrian Hickman, a medical injuries specialist who is representing the baby's parents in their compensation claim. "Viral contamination has always been a concern," he said. The couple will have pre-test counselling in Plymouth, he added.

Their son, Benjamin Jones, was last night at the centre of a new row over a leaked confidential report on the case which appears to confirm the couple's claims that the needle was lodged in his abdominal wall and had shown up on X-ray, and that this was not acted on by doctors.

But managers at the Treliske hospital in Truro, Cornwall, where Benjamin was born on Christmas Day, said the "progress" report by independent neonatal experts was "inconclusive and incomplete". The hospital, part of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, is demanding access to the needle to carry out forensic tests, including analysis of any dried blood before publishing a full report.

Jan Honey, a spokeswoman for the trust, declined to comment on the report. "It would not be responsible for us to take action based on incomplete findings," she said.

Steve Jones, 31, and his wife, Andrea, 24, of Helston, said they were vindicated by the report's findings which were leaked to BBC Radio 4.

The report found that the needle was in the baby's abdomen at the time of an X-ray on 4 January. The team could not say when or how this happened, or find a puncture site where the needle had entered. The X-ray was ordered after a bruise the "size of a 10p piece" was noticed. Mrs Jones says she pulled the needle from her son's back on 18 January.

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