Marina patients receive syphilis-infected blood

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Health authorities are scrambling after the National Blood Transfusion Service allegedly supplied patients at Princess Marina Hospital with three units of syphilis-infected blood. The fault has been traced to a new system within the blood bank.

The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) recently sent three units of blood infected with syphilis to Princess Marina Hospital, after a mix-up involving a new system at the blood bank.

Correspondence leaked to Mmegi this week indicates that the referral hospital received three units of infected blood, which has already been given to unknown patient/s.

According to an insider, the infected blood was allegedly shipped from the blood bank sometime in the last two weeks with the NBTS only discovering the error this last week.


A department within the NBTS then notified the management who also then informed the hospital. “Lab manager wrote a report on 11/03/2016 to Dr Kayembe (NBTS director) concerning the three positive units which where shipped,” reads the correspondence in part.

It continues: “The units which where shipped while positive for syphilis, the follow-up was done by the acting lab manager and he was told that the units are already transfused to the patients”.  Mmegi has also been informed that management at the NBTS has been informed and is working around the clock to rectify the matter.

“The blood bank recently acquired new equipment, which erroneously missed and passed the infected blood to the blood bank,” an insider at the NBTS told Mmegi.

The concerned source blamed the new system, which is suspected to have failed the validation process. “The system is from a South African based company (name known to this publication). It previously failed the validation process. In this incident it failed to detect and reject the infected blood,” said the insider.

Reached for comment, the NBTS director, Mukendi Kayembe confirmed the incident. He however declined to answer further questions, referring this reporter to the Ministry of Health.

“The Ministry is aware of the issue and they should be in a proper position to answer you. I report to the Ministry,” he said, adding that he would be willing to share more information once given the green light by the Ministry.

Efforts to reach representatives from the Ministry were futile by press time yesterday, as their phones rang unanswered.

In a response to written questions, Princess Marina spokesman, Donnel Kutlapye said no communication had been received from the NBTS about infected blood issued to the Hospital.

The Hospital has previously received contaminated blood. In 2004, a child received four units of blood, one of which was contaminated with HIV.

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