Stem cells lost in freezer fail­ure

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - News -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — A freezer mal­func­tion re­sulted in the loss of blood stem cells from 56 child pa­tients at Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Los An­ge­les, but no child’s health is in jeop­ardy due to the in­ci­dent, the hos­pi­tal said in a state­ment on its web­site.

Pa­tients and their fam­i­lies were no­ti­fied in let­ters sent ear­lier this month and a phone line was es­tab­lished for fam­i­lies with ques­tions, the state­ment said.

“We apol­o­gize for any dis­tress or con­fu­sion that this has caused our pa­tients and their fam­i­lies,” the hos­pi­tal said.

The hos­pi­tal said it also apol­o­gized af­ter learn­ing that the let­ters in­form­ing the fam­i­lies were ad­dressed to the pa­tients.

“Th­ese blood stem cells, all of which were col­lected from pa­tients, were in long-term stor­age,” the state­ment said. “We rou­tinely col­lect cells early in a child’s course of on­col­ogy ther­apy for pos­si­ble fu­ture use. When ex­cess cells are not needed, they re­main in stor­age in the un­likely event that they could be­come help­ful in the fu­ture.”

The hos­pi­tal said the fail­ure in­volved freezer tem­per­a­ture sen­sors and that safe­guards in place at the time were “in­suf­fi­cient.”

The freezer has been re­placed, the sen­sor mon­i­tor­ing and alert sys­tem has been up­graded, power sources have been dou­ble checked, main­te­nance has been in­creased, and en­gi­neer­ing staff are be­ing trained on the new sys­tem, the hos­pi­tal said.

Chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer James Stein told the Los An­ge­les Times that all but one pa­tient had gone through ini­tial ther­apy and that pa­tient did re­quire rec­ol­lec­tion of stem cells.

Col­lect­ing stem cells again from the pa­tients would only be rec­om­mended if needed in the event of a re­lapse, Stein said.

As­so­ci­ated Press files

Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Los An­ge­les says a freezer mal­func­tion re­sulted in the loss of blood stem cells from 56 child pa­tients. A hos­pi­tal state­ment says the pa­tients and their fam­i­lies were no­ti­fied in let­ters sent ear­lier this month.

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