OSAKA – Bacteria was detected in the blood of a 65-year-old woman who died of blood poisoning after receiving a transfusion at an Osaka hospital in September, hospital officials said Saturday.
Yersinia bacteria, which causes food poisoning, has been found in blood from the woman and in blood that was used for the transfusion at the Saiseikai Suita Hospital in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, the officials told a news conference.
The Japanese Red Cross Society is looking into the contamination and the patient’s death, the officials said.
If it is confirmed that the woman died of Yersinia contamination, she will be the first person in Japan to have died of bacterial contamination from a transfusion.
Hospital officials said the hospital had taken care in handling the blood and the patient, and that it was “an accident which could not have been prevented.”
Officials from the hospital and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the woman was admitted to the hospital with a bone fracture.
While she was undergoing dialysis treatment for chronic kidney failure on Sept. 22, she received a transfusion of red blood cells to prevent anemia, the officials said. Shortly after the transfusion, however, her condition deteriorated and her condition became critical, they said.
She died on Sept. 25 of blood poisoning after bacteria had contaminated her entire body, they said.
The hospital contacted the Red Cross and the Osaka Prefectural Police on Sept. 25, and the Red Cross notified the health ministry, according to the officials.
The Red Cross said the blood used for the transfusion came from blood donated from one person. As it has recalled other blood products made from the same blood, there is no danger of the blood being used for transfusions involving other patients, it added.
Although the hospital had refrigerated the blood at between 0 C and 4 C, Yersinia bacteria can still develop at temperatures below 5 C.
Yoichi Yasuno, head of the hospital, told the press conference, “There was no problem with how we kept blood within the hospital nor in how we responded after the patient’s condition deteriorated.”
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