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Five Patients in Taiwan Given HIV-Infected Organ Transplants

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In what doctors are calling "appalling negligence", five patients in Taiwan were given organs from a donor infected with HIV. The five patients are now being treated with anti-viral drugs, but experts say they are still likely to contract the disease and will face further health complications since they will also have to take medications to keep their bodies from rejecting the new organs.

The organs were donated by a 37-year-old man who fell from a building and lapsed into a coma on August 24. His lungs, liver, kidney, and heart were taken that same day, according to his wishes, and were transplanted to five different patients. His family claims that they were unaware that he had HIV.

The kidney, liver, and lung transplants were performed at one hospital where doctors discovered that the organs were infected with HIV beforehand. However, in a strange turn of events, doctors were given the green light to go ahead with the transplants. The heart transplant was performed at a separate hospital. According to the doctors at the first hospital, the transplants were given the go-ahead because of a miscommunication. Apparently, a doctor involved in the transplants thought he heard the word "non-reactive", which means HIV negative, when what was actually said was "reactive", meaning HIV positive. The hospital also added that the information was given over the phone and was not double-checked per hospital procedures. Health authorities have since launched an investigation and the doctors, if found guilty, face up to 10 years in prison. The hospital may also be barred from performing similar procedures for a year.