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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
More than 40 given 'stolen bones'
An operation
Several hospital have admitted using suspect parts in operations
More than 40 British patients have been implanted with tissue from body parts allegedly stolen in the US, hospitals in England and Wales have confirmed.

The bone graft tissue is used as a filler in orthopaedic surgery such as hip replacements and jaw construction.

US company Biomedical Tissue Services allegedly exported body parts taken without relatives' permission.

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

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.

On Wednesday, following a Freedom of Information Act request by BBC News, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) decided the public interest outweighed the potential breach of patients' confidentiality and named 25 hospitals that had bought body parts from Biomedical Tissue Services.

Figures revised

The MHRA initially thought 77 parts had been sent to the UK, but they have now revised the figure and increased it 82.

The body parts were distributed by Swindon-based company Plus Orthopaedics.

On Thursday a spokesman for Southend Hospital in Essex said 18 patients had been implanted with bone graft tissue bought from Plus Orthopaedics between May 2003 and November 2005.

A Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust spokeswoman said it was trying to contact 12 patients treated using tissue from the same suspect batch at the University Hospital of Wales and Llandough Hospital.

Following the allegations, we immediately followed all appropriate procedures and supported our UK hospital clients fully in dealing with this issue
Plus Orthopaedics managing director Phil Davies

Bupa Hospitals said three patients at its Cardiff and one at its Hartswood hospitals had also been treated with bone graft tissue from the same batch.

Nuffield Hospitals, which includes the North London Nuffield Hospital in Enfield, the Somerset Nuffield Hospital in Taunton and the Wessex Nuffield Hospital in Eastleigh, Hampshire, also said three of the suspect products had been used on patients in 2005.

The University Hospital of North Staffordshire said it was trying to contact a patient also believed to have been implanted with the suspect tissue.

London's Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, the Wellington Hospital, the Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley in Yorkshire, the Mayday University Hospital in Croydon, south London, and the Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon, south-west London, each admitted implanting one of their patients with the suspect tissue.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Derriford Hospital in Devon, said one of its patients had been implanted but later died of unrelated causes.

A second, unused, product from the same batch remains in quarantine at the hospital.

The Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Scunthorpe General Hospital and the South Devon Healthcare Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, all said they had received - but not used - some of the suspect tissue.

'Risks negligible'

Musgrove Park and Somerset Nuffield Hospitals in Taunton said it had also received some and was working to identify any affected patients.

A MHRA spokesman said it was not suggesting that the parts were stolen or possibly infected.

They said that any risks to patients were low because of a stringent screening process in the UK.

Individual doctors are to decide what to do in regards to removing the implants or whether to leave them in.

Plus Orthopaedics managing director Phil Davies said: "Following the allegations, we immediately followed all appropriate procedures and supported our UK hospital clients fully in dealing with this issue and we have worked closely with the MHRA to assist them in any way we can with their investigations.

"If however, any patients do have any concerns we would advise that they contact their surgeon for further advice."

'Stolen bones' used in operation
21 Sep 06 |  Staffordshire
Hospital took 'stolen' body parts
20 Sep 06 |  Bradford
Alistair Cooke's bones 'stolen'
22 Dec 05 |  Americas

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