Transplant patient given liver of meningitis man

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A HOSPITAL confirmed yesterday that doctors had transplanted the liver of a man who had meningitis into another patient.

But a spokesman for the National Health Service said both the donor's body and the recipient had been treated with antibiotics and the second patient, who has not been named, faces no more risk than normal.

Christian Dumbell, of St Helens, Merseyside, died at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Wednesday from what appeared to be a drugs overdose. The coroner and the man's family gave permission for his organs to be released for transplant and the Transplant Service was informed of the organs availability. However, a postmortem examination carried out on Mr Dumbell raised the suspicion that he had also been suffering from meningitis.

A spokesman for the North West Regional Health Authority said the Transplant Service was at once informed and a stop was put on use of the organs. However, the liver had already been given to a patient suffering from a life-threatening condition. Following the operation, the organ's recipient was treated with high-dose broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Hugh Lamont, head of communications for the NHS in the North-west, said: "We have established the facts and come to the conclusion the Countess of Chester acted correctly in releasing organs to the Transplant Service. They then did the right thing by treating the organ with antibiotics. All the indications are the patient has faced no more risk than would normally be the case and is currently making good progress."

Mr Lamont stressed Mr Dumbell showed no sign of meningitis prior to his death and there was nothing in his case history to indicate that he was suffering from this or any other infectious disease.

A spokesman for the UK Transplant Services authority said: "As a precaution against the possibility of transferring infection in transplant operations, all donors are given a substantial dose of antibiotics before removal of organs. It has been confirmed that this was done in this case."

Members of Mr Dumbell's family were too upset to comment yesterday.