December 3, 1998; Filed at 5:59 a.m. EST; by The
NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of transfusion recipients in three
cities are being warned that they may have received blood
improperly tested for the AIDS virus and hepatitis.
The notice comes more than a year after two lab supervisors were
convicted of tampering with blood tests at the New York Blood
Center, the nation's largest independent blood bank.
Within the past month, the center has notified recipients in
Chicago, Pittsburgh and Memphis, Tenn., about about potential
problems. New York area recipients were alerted two years ago.
No viral infections have been linked to blood used in
transfusions in any of the cities from 1991 to 1996, center
officials said Wednesday, adding that the risk of infection was
``If we had thought there was a big problem, we would have done
something right away,'' said Dr. Robert Jones, the center's
president and chief executive.
Chicago, Pittsburgh and Memphis had been sending their blood
samples to the Manhattan blood center for viral testing.
Through newspaper and radio announcements, the center is trying
to reach an estimated 40,000 people who received blood from June
1994 to December 1996 in Chicago-area hospitals. It issued a public
health announcement to transfusion recipients in Pittsburgh and
Memphis last month.
In 1997, a man and woman who worked as lab managers at the
Manhattan center were convicted of taking shortcuts on blood tests
and then falsifying records to conceal their crimes.
An investigation found that the shortcuts affected tests for
HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HTLV, a virus that has been
associated with some types of leukemia.
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
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