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Donor Tissue Blamed in Knee Surgery Death

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Donor Tissue Blamed in Knee Surgery Death

December 07, 2001
By Associated Press
December 7, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS — No links have been found between the cases of three men who died last month after undergoing elective knee surgeries, state health officials said.

The youngest patient, a 23-year-old man, was infected with the clostridium sordellii bacterium, health officials said Thursday.

The bacterium is suspected to have come from a cadaver's tissue that was grafted into the patient, said Dr. Harry Hull, the state epidemiologist. He said clostridium sordellii grows naturally in corpses as part of the decomposition process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking eight other patients who received tissue from the same cadaver, according to Dr. Dan Jernigan, a CDC epidemiologist. All are alive, but one has shown some possible symptoms of infection, he said. Hull refused to say where those patients were being treated.

Hull said officials still don't know why the two other men — ages 78 and 60 — died after their operations but consider the investigation closed.

``We have pursued this as vigorously as we can, as far as we can, and we cannot demonstrate a link,' Hull said. One in 500 knee surgeries end in death and it's not always possible to find a medical explanation, he said.

The three died after knee surgeries at hospitals in St. Cloud and Alexandria.

The discovery of the deaths within a week led the state to impose a temporary freeze on such procedures. It has since been lifted.

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