Chinese boy, 2, found infected with HIV after hospital stay

National Health and Family Planning Commission launches investigation after initial review clears hospital of any wrongdoing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 5:28pm

China’s top health authority has begun an investigation into how a two-year-old boy admitted to hospital to have a piece of apple removed from his throat contracted HIV after spending six weeks in intensive care.

The incident began late last year when the boy was taken to the Guiyang Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Guiyang, capital of the southern province of Guizhou, media portal Thecover.cn reported on Thursday.

“When we took our son to the hospital, the [initial] treatment lasted for about an hour,” the boy’s mother, identified only by her surname, Tang, was quoted as saying.

“Then the doctor told us he had to be admitted to the intensive care unit.”

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The report did not include any comments from the hospital or medical staff to explain either the nature of the initial problem or the reason it was deemed necessary for the child to be sent to intensive care.

However, the city’s health authority issued a statement on Friday, saying that when the child was admitted to the hospital he “was having difficulty breathing and in a critical condition, so he was taken to the ICU and treated for 25 days”.

Tang said that during that period, as well as undergoing routine tests and having an endoscopy, her son was given a blood transfusion.

“My son also had blood tests while he was in hospital … [but] he did not test positive for HIV,” she said.

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Just a day after taking their son back home, Tang and her husband realised he was still unwell, so took him back to the hospital, the report said.

He was immediately returned to the critical care unit where he spent a further two weeks.

It was at that point that the boy’s parents began to question the treatment their child was receiving and decided to switch him to a different hospital in neighbouring Chongqing, the report said.

Doctors there carried out a blood test on the child and found he was HIV positive. Tang and her husband also underwent blood tests but were found not to be carrying the virus, she said.

The parents then approached the Guiyang Health and Family Planning Commission and asked it to investigate the case. Following a review, the authority said earlier this month that it had found no problems with the hospital or the centre that provided the blood for the child’s transfusion.

Dissatisfied with the conclusion, the parents took the case to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

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The South China Morning Post on Friday spoke to the Guizhou Health and Family Planning Commission, which confirmed that the state body was investigating the case.

“As the issue covers a very wide range [of incidents], the investigation may take about 10 days,” it said.

The city health authority’s statement said that: “All 33 medical staff who were in contact with the child tested negative for HIV. We also tested samples of the blood [used for the transfusion] but found nothing unusual.

“We are working with other authorities to determine the source of the infection.”

A spokesman for the Guiyang Maternal and Child Health Hospital earlier appealed for a fair investigation by the national health commission.

“If it [the child’s diagnosis] is indeed due to our negligence, we will take responsibility,” he said. “But if it is not related to us, please grant us the justice we deserve.”