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Patient dies from E. coli-tainted blood

Jul 28, 2006 | AP A hospital patient died after receiving blood platelets tainted with E. coli bacteria, the Community Blood Center in Kansas City said.

The Food and Drug Administration determined the Dec. 21 transfusion was a "contributing factor" in the death.

"It truly was a tragic incident and a very rare series of mistakes," David Graham, director of donor recruitment for the blood center, said Wednesday. "We thought we had a redundant and robust system. We had multiple failures of that system." Only one unit of the tainted substance was released, he said.

E. coli bacteria can cause severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Young children and the elderly are at risk for complications that can lead to kidney damage or death. Platelets help with clotting and are used with trauma victims and patients undergoing surgery or cancer treatments.

Graham said the center tests all of its blood products for various contaminants but accidentally released the platelets in question. After discovering the problem, the center notified the hospital within hours of the hospital receiving the tainted unit of platelets, Graham said, but the unit already had been used, he said.

The center immediately notified the FDA.

In a warning letter dated March 9, the FDA chastised the blood center, saying its procedures are "not always maintained and followed."

Graham said the problems had been rectified.

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