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Virus in transplanted hearts bodes ill

Researchers monitoring children who received heart transplants report that common viral infections of the implants can send these patients on a downward spiral.

Tests reveal that the viruses dont arrive with the donated organ but rather infect the recipient sometime after transplantation. Research on adult and child recipients of either a heart or a pair of lungs had hinted that when viral infections settle into a donated organ, immune rejection and other problems can result.

Jeffrey A. Towbin of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his colleagues tracked the progress of 149 heart-transplant recipients under age 18. During a series of checkups over 4 years on average, physicians threaded a flexible device tipped with a tiny scope and clipping tool through a vein to the heart. They took snippets of heart muscle for analysis.

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