From Chicago Breaking News--
Lawsuit: Patient got HIV-infected transplant
A transplant patient at the University of Chicago Medical Center filed suit today against the hospital and one of its surgeons, claiming she received a kidney from a donor infected with HIV and hepatitis C.
The patient, identified only as Jane Doe, alleges the hospital knew that the donor, who was homosexual, was in a high-risk group and withheld the information from her. Had she known of the "true nature of the donor's lifestyle and the risks associated with receiving his kidney" she would not have consented to the surgery, the lawsuit said.
The woman was one of four transplant recipients who contracted HIV from the donor, whose infection went undetected in what hospital officials say is the first documented case of the virus being transmitted by organ donation in the U.S. in more than 20 years.
The Tribune first reported on the infections resulting from the transplants a year ago.
Officials have not released any personal details about the donor or recipients, citing medical privacy laws. The suit was filed anonymously to protect her privacy, said her attorney, Thomas A. Demetrio.
The woman, now 33 and living in the Chicago area, was on dialysis for a condition that was not life-threatening when a transplant coordinator at the medical center notified her of an available kidney, the suit said. The kidney was transplanted on Jan. 9, 2007.
The woman was asked on Nov. 1 of that year to return to the hospital for testing because one of the other three organ recipients from the same donor had tested positive for HIV. The test determined she was infected with HIV and hepatitis C, Demetrio said.
The suit charges medical negligence for failing to notify the woman of the donor's high-risk behavior and for not testing her for HIV three months after the transplant, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the case of high-risk donors.
The donor had not tested positive for the diseases, probably because the infections were too recent to register on the screening tests used. The University of Chicago Medical Center was one of three area hospitals that transplanted organs from the donor, who died from injuries sustained in an auto accident.
In July, the patient's body rejected the kidney. She is back on dialysis, awaiting another transplant.
-- Deborah L. Shelton