(CBS/AP) AHMADABAD, India - At least 23 children suffering from a rare genetic disorder that requires regular blood transfusions have tested positive for HIV after receiving tainted blood, officials said Monday.
The children, who suffer from thalassemia and are from poor families, all received free blood transfusions at a government-run hospital in the Junagadh district of Gujarat state in western India between January and August, hospital head G.T. Dayalu said.
State government spokesman Jai Narayan Vyas said a team of doctors has been sent to investigate.
News reports quoted Vyas as saying that many of the infected children had received transfusions from more than one hospital.
But the Indian Express newspaper reported that parents of the children said they had received blood only at the government-run Junagadh Civil Hospital.
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that results in anemia.
Thirty-three-year-old Salim Sheikh told the Indian Express that he found out last month 23 of the 103 thalassemic children registered at the Junagadh Civil Hospital tested since January this year have tested positive, including his 4-your-old daughter.
"When we went for transfusion on August 9, the doctors asked us to get the HIV test done. The result was positive," Sheikh told the paper. "The doctors, blood bank staff and hospital superintendent said, 'It has happened, what can be done?'"
Sheikh sold his motorcycle and television to pay for his daughter's monthly blood transfusions and medicines.