Lee Kiddell, from Lake County, Illinois had a bone tissue transplant last August, 2005. Three discs in his neck had to be replaced due to a car accident four years earlier. Nobody told him of the traumatic, psychological side effects he would suffer later.
"The orthopedic surgeon suggested that I have a femur bone transplant to replace my discs. I had the operation and in February, 2006 I received a letter from the surgeon that the femur bones in question came from Biomedical Tissue Services and I had to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis. I was devastated. I have a wife and 16-year-old daughter and I dreaded telling them. I put off getting tested for a month because I was so worried about the outcome.
"Originally I was supposed to go to hospital to get my blood tested, but Biomedical stopped me from going there. When I first received their letter, I phoned Biomedical and asked if I could go to my local hospital for the test. At first they agreed but when I got to the hospital, with my referral from both the surgeon and Biomedical Services, I was told that I couldn't be tested there. After waiting three hours at registration, the receptionist told me that I had to phone Biomedical. This was really frustrating. Biomedical had set up a national blood testing center at Quest Technologies so I had to go there. Why didn't they tell me that in the first place?
"After all, I had already been cleared to go to the hospital a month ago. At Quest they took seven vials of blood from me, tested four locally and shipped off the other three vials to New York. I got the results back six weeks later. Thank God they were clear but Biomedical told me that I have to go back in six months to get re-tested. This is very stressful because I heard that HIV and Hepatitis can lie dormant in your system for a very long time.
"After I got the results, my surgeon phoned me - on a Sunday afternoon. He said that the chances of contacting anything are slim, about ten percent. Obviously, he is also concerned.
"I am not the same person I was. I keep thinking that I have this thing in my body and it is really freaking me out. It's an uneasy feeling knowing I could have a disease. The places they got these femur bones from weren't screened so now I've heard that a lot of them had AIDS, hepatitis and syphilis.
"After waiting four years to have this surgery, I figured that I would be done with my injury and I could move forward, get on with my life. In February, when I got this letter, I completely shut down. I am in a depressed mood, don't want to go anywhere, do anything. I am only 45 years old... I am no longer at ease with myself.
"I am furious with Biomedical. I phoned their 1-800 national hotline in New York when the hospital refused to test me. I told them what had happened at the hospital and asked why I had to be tested at Quest. They said 'sorry, there is nothing we can do about it, you have to go to Quest because there are so many people who need to be tested.' Apparently there are 52 people in Illinois alone and a whole lot more in Florida and New York.
"I've been scanning the newspapers looking for any more news on Biomedical Tissue Services. My friends and family said that I shouldn't have to be put in this kind of predicament - being so fearful. I am really scared and if something happens to me, somebody should have to pay for it because I certainly didn't ask for it.
"Also, when I had the femur bones planted, I was offered a fluid to make my neck stronger. I had to sign a waiver. This fluid comes from a human pancreas, liver or spleen. And it is supposed to have been tested from BioMedical. But maybe it wasn't. I feel like I'm getting the run-around from this place."
"My husband asked why he couldn't just have bone taken from his hip, but the surgeon said that procedure is outdated," says wife Laurie. "But now his doctor is concerned; since when do doctors call you on a Sunday? My husband thought this surgery was going to help and now he is going through this torment."
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|. By Jane Mundy|
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