3 Women Die After Transplants From Man With Hepatitis B

If a transplant patient had known her new kidney came from a man who had hepatitis B and was "fairly unwell" she might have thought twice about the operation, the Victorian Coroners Court reported.

Coroner Audrey Jamieson is investigating the circumstances of the deaths of three women in January 2007 who received organs from a man later found to be carrying a superbug called Arenavirus.

Jovo Vranjesevic, 57, died from a brain haemorrhage at Dandenong Hospital in December 2006, just days after returning to Australia from Europe.

His kidneys and liver were donated to three women: Karen Wilkinson, 44, Gurpal Sandhau, 64, and Carmellina Sirianni, 63.

The women all died within a week of each other in early January 2007.

Wilkinson's partner, Rae Moran, told the court that the new kidney never worked after the transplant and she watched Ms Wilkinson deteriorate until her life support machine was turned off just after midnight on January 1.

She said the medical team at Royal Melbourne Hospital should have taken into account the possibility that something was wrong with the organ rather than assume a transplant patient was having complications.

She said a protocol should be established where medical teams who perform transplants from the same donor should be in regular communication with each other on the progress of their patients.

"The hepatitis B had nothing to do with death, but if it had been pointed out she may have paused (before going ahead with the operation)," said Moran.

"If it is not a good organ, from a fairly unwell man, my question is whether adequate information was collected and disseminated to the medical teams about the donor's health."

The coroner said the hearing was being held to see if anything could be learned "from these unfortunate deaths."

"There is a public health and safety issue in relation to our organ donor process in Victoria," she said.

"The public need to know it is something we need to rely on."

She stressed that since the three deaths there had been no other instance of donors dying from Arenavirus which is a rodent virus that occasionally affects humans.