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Solution to preserve donor organs 'contaminated'

30th March 2012

A major alert has been issued over the solution used to preserve some donor organs for transplant.

surgeonatwork

The government has said the solution used to preserve some donor organs - viaspan - could be contaminated with the bacteria Bacillus cereus.

Tests have found it in the solution that is used to test the sterility of viaspan and further investigations are now being carried out to see if viaspan is also contaminated.

Viaspan - made by Bristol Myers-Squibb - is mainly used to preserve the liver, pancreas and bowel and is often used when organs are transported in the UK.

Its manufacture has been stopped and there is a worldwide recall on the solution, though it will continue to be used in the UK until an alternative has been found.

While no transplant centres have reported any adverse effects, patients can be prescribed antibiotics in case it is found. The bacteria can cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “There is currently no evidence of any problems in patients who have recently had transplants where viaspan has been used.

“If we were to recall the product immediately it is clear that patients would suffer and some may die.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is now seeking to identify alternative liquids for abdominal organs.

Two solutions have been identified which are not officially authorised for use but the agency has given the go-ahead for their use.

Bristol-Myers Squibb said it is "urgently investigating the cause of this issue".

 

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