Hepatitis B and C infections have spread at the Human Organ Transplant Center (HOTC) in Bhaktapur, causing panic among kidney patients who have been undergoing dialysis there.
As many as 19 kidney patients, who underwent dialysis at HOTC, are found to have been infected with hepatitis B and C.
All 19 kidney patients infected with the hepatitis have been referred by HOTC to the National Kidney Center (NKC) in Kathmandu for further treatment. Out of these, 16 were referred to NKC in the last two weeks alone.
According to NKC, hepatitis B and C infections have recently been found at the dialysis ward of Patan Hospital also. Nine kidney patients at Patan Hospital infected with hepatitis B and C are now undergoing treatment at NKC. Hepatitis B and C are contagious liver diseases. In some patients, these infections may have only mild impact while others have to put up with lifelong suffering.
In Kathmandu Valley, several hospitals, including HOTC and Patan, provide dialysis services. But NKC is the only facility that offers dialysis to kidney patients suffering from hepatitis or HIV.
Doctors at NKC say negligence could be the reason behind the spread of hepatitis infections at HOTC and Patan Hospital.
“There must have been something lacking on the part of hospitals where the infections have spread. The infections might have spread from some infected patients, through the dialysis machines,” said Dr Rishi Kumar Kafley, executive director at NKC. “We have been facing problems dealing with the sudden spurt in the number of kidney patients infected with hepatitis B and C as we do not have enough dialysis machines.”
Currently, as many as 90 patients, including 28 referred by HOTC and Patan Hospital, are receiving dialysis at NKC.
According to Dr Kafley, all renal patients are required to show reports every three months showing that they are not infected with hepatitis B or C, but some patients at HOTC and Patan must have evaded this check, thus causing the hepatitis infections.
“Kidney patients cannot get dialysis unless they reveal their hepatitis status. So, they tend to hide their status if it is positive,” said Dr Kafley. “The hospitals where the infection spread might not have checked the hepatitis reports thoroughly or the patients might have deceived the hospital authorities.”
However, Dr Pukar Chandra Shrestha, director at HOTC, denied any negligence on their part. “We strictly sterilize all our equipments following a dialysis. So, there is no chance of spreading infections through the dialysis machines,” said Dr Shrestha. He said the infections might have spread through blood transfusions.
But Dr Kafley said the infections could not have spread through contaminated blood. “All hospitals in the capital use blood supplied by the blood bank. Patients at other hospitals would also have been infected if there was something wrong in blood supplied by the blood bank,” Dr Kafley said.