Archive for September, 2015

Pittsburgh hospital suspends organ transplants after mold infections, deaths

The following article clip is from the original article:

A Pittsburgh hospital has temporarily stopped organ transplants after three transplant patients contracted a fungal infection and died.  The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center voluntarily suspended transplants at UMC Presbyterian “until we have completed our investigation and are satisfied that we’ve done all we can do to address the situation,” UPMC Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Dr. Steven D. Shapiro said.  Shapiro said Monday that the suspension could last two or three days. He said the medical center is reaching out to all its patients with scheduled organ transplants and “will do everything we can to make sure patients receive life-saving transplants if they are critically ill.”  Officials have struggled to find the source of the mold that infected patients at UPMC.  The fungus isn’t some kind of killer mold. It’s a household kind — ordinary indoor mold.  It doesn’t threaten the general population, or patients and staff with normal immune systems at the hospital. But UPMC said it believes the mold may have contributed to the deaths of organ transplant patients.  One transplant patient died Thursday at UPMC Montefiore, the medical center said.  Two other patients died in October and in June at UPMC Presbyterian, CNN affiliate WTAE-TV reported.  And UPMC said another patient became deathly ill with the same kind of mold infection.

People usually have plenty of contact with such molds, and nothing happens, UPMC said.  “The mold that causes infections like this is common in the environment and is not a risk to anyone except those who are most severely immunocompromised,” the medical center said in a statement, without giving the scientific name of the mold.  That latter group would include people who have received donor organs. Fungal infections are on the list of known health risks after transplant surgery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.  The drugs that prevent a patient from rejecting the new organ depress the immune system, opening the patient up to infection risks about which hardly anyone else would have to worry.  But these infections unfortunately pop up sometimes after a transplant, a CDC study shows. Often the infected patient dies.  Patients who recently received transplants at UPMC Presbyterian have received an antifungal medication, even though they are not infected. “This prophylactic treatment is intended to protect them until we find and fix the source of this problem,” a statement said.  Shapiro said the medical center has been working with fungal experts, and a CDC team will arrive in Pittsburgh on Tuesday to help investigate.