Nearly 100 patients who received grafts of human tissue at six Atlanta-area hospitals in the last two years have been told that the tissue may be diseased because it came from body parts stolen from funeral home corpses, reports the city’s Journal-Constitution. The unidentified patients, among thousands in a growing nationwide horror story, have been advised to undergo testing for HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B and C because the material grafted into them was not properly screened for the infections.
“This ghastly conduct has sent a ripple of fear to anyone who has had a medical implant,” said New York City Department of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill O’Hearn, whose detectives uncovered the scheme last October in which more than 1,000 corpses were allegedly looted in funeral homes for parts that were sold into the legitimate and highly lucrative human tissue market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that it and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the risk for infection is low. Even so, the FDA recommends that hospitals and physicians who engrafted the suspect material contact patients around the country and advise them of the need to be tested. The FDA has also ordered the recall of bone, tendon, skin, heart valves and other tissues distributed by the company at the heart of the alleged multimillion-dollar scheme, Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, N.J.