Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A former lab tech is accused of exposing hundreds of hospital patients in Maryland to Hepatitis C and now we’re learning the dangers may have started years earlier than investigators first thought.
Mike Hellgren talks to one of the victims.
“The first thing I thought of was, `I’m going to die,’” said Linwood Nelson.
Linwood Nelson is living with Hepatitis C, a virus coursing through his veins that’s attacking his liver. The Vietnam veteran says he contracted it at Baltimore’s VA Medical Center. A former technician there, David Kwiatkowski—who tested positive—faces federal charges for injecting himself with syringes filled with narcotics and then leaving them to be used on patients.
“It was very devastating. My life flashed before me,” Nelson said. Everyone you see who is employed in the hospital in their scrubs and all, you think they are all there in your best interest, not knowing that one person can deceive you for life.”
Nelson believes he was infected during one of two procedures at the VA Medical Center. He says the VA contacted him after tracing Kwiatkowski’s patients. The technicial also worked at Maryland General Hospital from January to March of 2010, Southern Maryland Hospital from December 2008 until February 2009 and Johns Hopkins Hospital from July of 2009 until January 2010. His Baltimore VA Medical Center stint was from May to November of 2008.
Nelson says he wasn’t told until this year.
“A four year, two month gap,” he said.
Kwiatkowski worked in seven other states, too—where there are open investigations. He denies the charges against him.
Nelson tells WJZ he isn’t angry.
“No matter what happens, peace be with him because he has to carry this,” he said.
The exact number of victims is unknown but thousands were potentially exposed.