After their 2-year-old tested positive for HIV, two parents in southwestern Guizhou province are holding the hospital that treated him responsible, online news site The Cover reported Thursday.
In October of last year, the child — referred to by the pseudonym Xiaotian — choked on an apple slice and had to be sent to the Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital in Guiyang, the provincial capital. To the parents’ bewilderment and dismay, Xiaotian spent nearly a month at the hospital after being admitted with what they thought was a relatively straightforward throat obstruction.
When Xiaotian’s condition did not improve, his parents in December took him to the children’s hospital at Chongqing Medical University, in the sprawling metropolis about five hours’ drive north of Guiyang. There, they received the shocking news that the toddler had tested positive for HIV.
The parents were dumbfounded. When Xiaotian was admitted to the hospital in Guiyang less than two months before, a routine blood test had shown no trace of HIV. The mother, surnamed Tang, told The Cover that during the month her child had spent in the hospital’s ICU, she had been granted few chances to see him. Tang added that she had followed all of the doctors’ orders and recommendations — which included a blood transfusion.
“While at the Guiyang hospital, my child stayed in the ICU the whole time,” Tang said. “He was cut off from the outside world — even my husband and I were rarely allowed to touch him. So how did my child contract HIV?”
When a doctor at the Guiyang hospital finally agreed to release Xiaotian in November, the child spent just a day and a half at home before his parents noticed he was still having trouble breathing and took him to Chongqing.
The parents — both of whom tested negative for HIV — reported their case to Guiyang’s health department in late June. The following month, they received a response: An investigation had shown that neither the hospital nor the blood bank had done anything wrong.
The health department’s conclusion has been a source of endless frustration to Xiaotian’s parents. “If they did nothing wrong, then where is the problem?” said Tang.
On Friday afternoon, the Guiyang Health and Family Planning Commission issued a statement saying that upon receiving the parents’ complaint on June 28, it opened an investigation into all related departments at the hospital. In total, 33 hospital staff who had been in contact with the child were tested for HIV, the statement said, and all of the tests came back negative. The hospital’s blood stores, too, were found to be safe, the statement continued.
The local commission reported the case to higher authorities, and the provincial commission has vowed to find the source of the infection. Four experts from the National Health Commission in Beijing will also assist with the provincial investigation.
In June, a lab technician at a hospital in eastern China’s Zhejiang province was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violations of medical standards that led to five patients being infected with HIV. In the aftermath of the verdict, netizens and legal experts complained that the sentence was too light.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: A mother holds her child at a hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan province, Nov. 21, 2017. Zuo Dongchen/VCG)