Probe into contaminated transfusion A 52-year-old man was fighting for his life last night after receiving contaminated blood at Tuen Mun Hospital. The Hospital Authority said it had not found any human or system errors so far and that all standard precautionary measures for blood processing were followed. It described the case as 'rare'. The authority has set up a four-member expert panel, led by University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, to find out how the blood given to the patient was contaminated by bacteria. The patient, with chronic liver disease and anaemia, was admitted to the hospital's medical ward on Thursday for a transfusion of red blood cells. After two hours of transfusion, he suffered a sudden drop in blood pressure, accelerated pulse rate and severe shortness of breath. Tuen Mun Hospital chief executive Albert Lo Chi-yuen said the transfusion was immediately stopped and the patient sent to the intensive care unit. The bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens, which commonly exists in the environment, was found in the man's blood and blood given to him. The authority has already traced the blood donor, who is in good health. About 180,000 packs of blood are used by public hospitals for transfusions each year. Donated blood is processed into three products: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. The authority's director of quality and safety, Leung Pak-yin, said last night that a child on chemotherapy had received the same donor's platelets but had shown no sign of infection. The plasma from the donor's blood was sent to Australia for processing and has been recalled. 'We hope that by alerting the public to this incident, clinicians and everyone will be alert to the risk of blood transfusion. We also want to explore more blood safety measures through the expert panel investigation,' Dr Leung said. The patient's younger brother, who identified himself only as Mr Wong, said outside the hospital's intensive care unit last night the authority's explanation was unacceptable. 'We have reservations about its [the authority's] explanation ... we cannot completely accept it. It is like someone saying when two cars crash in a traffic accident that it's nobody's fault. Is this possible?' Mr Wong said. He said doctors had told the family that his brother's condition was 'not optimistic'. The man has been unconscious since the incident and is suffering from organ failure. Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service senior medical officer Lee Cheuk-kwong said the first 30 millilitres of blood from each donor was tested for infectious diseases including hepatitis and HIV. Dr Lee said about 900,000 bags of blood had been examined in the past five years and no bacteria found. Professor Yuen said the panel would look at 'every little detail' of the blood donation and processing system. The panel is expected to have preliminary findings in two weeks. The Patients' Rights Association and medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki called on the Hospital Authority and Red Cross to test more blood samples to ensure their safety and to step up sterilisation procedures for blood collection and transfusions.