Qld: Patients given heart tissue from donor with brain cancer

AN urgent independent review has been ordered into Queensland’s Heart Valve Bank after it was revealed four patients, including three babies, received tissue potentially contaminated with cancer.

It’s understood the patients were given heart transplant tissue from a donor with a rare terminal brain tumour.

Speaking on Friday, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the serious breach happened more than a year ago but was only discovered during an unrelated audit earlier this month.


Dr Young said it is highly unlikely the tissue was cancerous and that the risk of the patients developing cancer was “extraordinarily low”.

She said the three babies received the transplants at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, but the hospital was not responsible for the breach.

Queensland Health director-general Michael Walsh said the tissues were “incorrectly released” for use in heart valve and tissue grafts early last year.

“While I’m assured the risk to these patients is extraordinarily low, this is unacceptable and should not have happened,” Mr Walsh said.

The department has since apologised to the patients’ and their families, who were notified of what the department is calling a “significant clerical error” this week.

Mr Walsh said an independent, external review would now be carried out to determine what contributed to the error.

The review is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

The Heart Valve Bank – operated by Metropolitan South Hospital and Health Service (HHS) – has been closed since January.