Japanese woman dies after hepatitis B
infection from tainted blood: report
Sat Aug 2, 7:19 PM ET
TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese women died last
June after being infected with hepatitis B from a tainted
blood donor, a report said, adding to renewed concerns over
laxity in the nation's blood screening process.
The cause of the woman's death could not be
confirmed because she also suffered from a circulatory
condition, but the Japanese Red Cross Society confirmed the
virus in her blood genetically matched that of one of her
donors, the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said.
"It is possible that the Red Cross'
inadequate trace analysis and failure to inform the woman of
the dangers resulted in delayed treatment," the paper
The woman underwent surgery in January 2002
free of hepatitis B, a sometimes deadly liver ailment, but
fell ill with the disease in May and died a month later.
She had received blood from several donors,
including a woman who called the Red Cross in April to say she
had been informed by a hospital that she had contracted
The Red Cross checked an earlier blood
sample and failed to find the virus, ending its investigation,
the paper said.
A second later test on the sample detected
the virus. Doctors found it genetically matched the virus
found in the dead woman.
Neither the Red Cross nor the health
ministry could be reached for comment.
The revelation comes amid a crackdown by
the health ministry on the Red Cross for failing to recall
thousands of units of blood from donors who gave blood
multiple times but only found out later they had a
In June, the ministry ordered the Red Cross
to recall the possibly tainted blood products, because the
donors' illnesses may have escaped detection in the early
stages of infection in a so-called "window period."
The Red Cross reportedly said in late July
that despite its efforts, some 6,400 units of potentially
tainted blood had likely already been used.