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Physician At Cleveland Clinic Reportedly Dies After AIDS Diagnosis With AM-AIDS Rdp

June 4, 1987

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A newspaper reported Thursday that a doctor at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic died after being diagnosed as having AIDS, but the hospital refused to comment on the case.

Dr. Harry Jeffrey Tourigian, a 33-year-old cardio-thoracic surgical resident at the Cleveland Clinic since July 1985, died Wednesday night while a patient at the hospital, said hospital spokesman Frank Weaver.

He refused, however, to provide any details about the cause of death or indicate who was the attending physician.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, citing unidentified sources, reported that Tourigian died of a rare form of pneumonia common to victims of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The newspaper said he was diagnosed with AIDS two weeks ago and was kept on a life-support system for about a week.

AIDS weakens the body’s immune system, making victims vulnerable to fatal illnesses. Most AIDS victims are homosexuals or intravenous drug users. Tourigian reportedly denied fitting that profile.

Weaver, while refusing to discuss specifics of the Tourigian case, has repeatedly denied there is any evidence that any patient or employee has contracted AIDS while at the medical complex.

Tourigian, a native of Philadelphia, was a 1980 graduate of the four-year Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Subsequently, he was an intern at the college’s hospital for one year, and then a general surgery resident there for another four years.

″He was considered an outstanding physician,″ said George Hatzfeld, director of communications for the college. ″He was one of our most outstanding students and held in high regard.″

Tourigian lived by himself at the Americana Apartments in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid for the past two years, according to apartment secretary Lisa Wertheimer.

Acting Cuyahoga County Coroner Lester Adelson, who said he was familiar with Tourigian’s death only through news reports, said his office would normally not deal with an AIDS-related in a case in which someone died under the care of a physician.

It would be the physician’s duty to file a death certificate in such a case, Adelson said.

Jeff Comfort, director of the Cleveland Health Department, said no death certificate had been filed in Tourigian’s death as of Thursday. Weaver said he did not know whether one had been signed yet.

Sally Boales, a nursing supervisor with the Ohio Department of Health’s AIDS Activity Unit in Columbus, said the office had received no offical reports on Tourigian’s death as of Thursday afternoon, but expected to hear from hospital officials in light of news reports.

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