Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Risk of AIDS Lingers in Country's Blood Supply

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Risk of AIDS Lingers in Country's Blood Supply

Article excerpt

Cappy Young had a doting wife of 22 years, three daughters, a grandchild, a job he likes and a big house with a two-car garage. And he was feeling better than ever after a doctor operated on him to improve the blood circulation in his legs last March.

He still has all that, yet nothing really will be the same. Last month, Young learned from his Richmond, Va., surgeon that one of the six pints of red blood cells transfused into him during the surgery was tainted with HIV.

Young said a test confirmed he is HIV-positive, making him one of 20 to 50 Americans each year who contract the AIDS-causing virus through blood transfusions, despite screening protocols that have made the U.S. blood supply the safest it has ever been.

"I went into the hospital to have an operation to relieve one disease that was curable and came out of the hospital with a disease that is not curable and that I can pass on to my wife," Young said Friday. "The infectious disease control doctor just told me it was my bad luck."

Federal blood safety officials arrived at Richmond-based Virginia Blood Services Friday to check on whether proper procedures were followed when the agency collected the tainted unit of blood from a Richmond donor, screened it and sent it to Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

The unidentified donor later discovered that he or she is HIV-positive and notified the agency, which alerted the 900-bed hospital.

Raymond Makhoul, Young's vascular surgeon, did not return a call for comment Friday, but hospital spokeswoman Cari Brunelle said there never has been a similar case of a tainted blood transfusion at her institutions. State health officials said they know of one other case of a Virginia patient contracting HIV from a blood transfusion, a 1986 case that progressed to fully developed AIDS.

Young, 53, is a forklift operator from Petersburg, Va. In the six weeks since he learned he is HIV-positive, he has had to cope with an $800-a-month drug regimen of so-called AIDS cocktails that make him throw up, feel tired and break out in rashes. …

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