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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
NHS alert on 'stolen' body parts
Derriford Hospital
Derriford Hospital managers are co-operating with NHS regulators
Potentially contaminated body parts allegedly stolen in the US may have been implanted into West Country patients, a government agency says.

More than 1,000 body parts were allegedly plundered by gangs in New York and then sold for transplants.

Biomedical Tissue Services, the firm at the centre of the scandal, exported 77 body parts to the UK last year.

An NHS regulator has alerted 20 NHS trusts including Plymouth and Torbay health trusts.

Derriford, the biggest hospital in the South West, said no-one was available to comment, but it has co-operated with an enquiry by the regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Torbay said it did not use any of the products.

Certificates 'doctored'

Late last year, the US Food and Drug Administration ordered a recall of the potentially tainted products and warned many patients could have been exposed to HIV and other diseases, but insisted the risk of infection was minimal.

New York investigators said death certificates were doctored, suggesting that people were younger and healthier when they died than was actually the case.

The tissue, in the form of skin, bone and tendons, was later sold for use in procedures like dental implants and hip replacements.

Four people have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The body of veteran BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke, who died of cancer aged 95 in March 2004, was reported to have been caught up in the case.

Stolen body parts 'sold to NHS'
11 Sep 06 |  Health
Four charged over US bones theft
23 Feb 06 |  Americas
Alistair Cooke's bones 'stolen'
22 Dec 05 |  Americas

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