UPMC temporarily halts transplants due to mold problem

UPMC Presby shuts down transplant program in wake of mold outbreak

PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says it is shutting down its transplant program due to a mold problem that may have contributed to the deaths of three transplant patients.

The closure affects all UPMC transplants, including kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and intestines.

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UPMC officials said Monday that after consulting with the nonprofit that manages the nation's transplant system, it was "voluntarily and temporarily" suspending all organ transplant operations at UMPC Presbyterian.

In an update posted on the UPMC blog, UPMC chief medical and scientific officer Dr. Steven Shapiro said, in part:

"In consultation with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that manages the nation's organ transplant system, UPMC has chosen to voluntarily and temporarily suspend all organ transplant operations at UPMC Presbyterian until we have completed our investigation and are satisfied that we've done all we can do to address the situation. 

UPMC said a fourth patient discovered to have a fungal situation is in guarded condition.

Officials say they are working with state and federal health officials and fungal specialists, and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy Murphy released the following statement Monday evening:

"At the request of the Department of Health, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will join us onsite tomorrow to assess the situation at UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore in order to identify the best options for patients. The CDC officials will lead the investigation.
"We are committed to ensuring the safety of patients at UPMC and the Department of Health is actively engaged in the investigation. The safety of patients is our top priority and we will continue to work with our partners in the federal government as well as UPMC to find the best path forward."

Officials say only those with severely compromised immune systems are endangered by the mold, which is common in the environment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.