The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and one of its transplant surgeons are facing malpractice charges from a kidney transplant patient who has tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C.

According to published reports, the unidentified 33-year-old woman, known in court papers as Jane Doe, received a kidney on January 9, 2007. She was told the donor was a healthy young man who had been killed in an auto accident.

Although the donor network which provided the kidney told the hospital that the young man was homosexual and had a history “high-risk behavior,” that information was not passed along to Ms. Doe, the lawsuit charges. She had been undergoing dialysis for a non-life-threatening condition and had twice refused organs because of infection risks associated with the potential donor’s lifestyle.

After another recipient of organs from the same donor tested positive for HIV, the hospital asked Ms. Doe to come in for testing. In all, four people who received organs from that donor have tested positive for both HIV and hepatitis C.


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The suit, which names UCMC and J. Richard Thistlewaite, MD, PhD, a surgeon on the transplant team and president of the hospital’s medical staff, seeks unspecified damages. Attorney Thomas Demetrio told the Associated Press that Ms. Doe has rejected the transplanted kidney and is unable to work. It’s too early to estimate the ultimate cost of her care and lost earning capacity, he said.