METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) – With Christmas just days away, it was fair on the Melum family to assume that a package arriving at their home in Hawaii was just another gift for under the tree.
But the box they received contained something that no one would put on their wish list.
“We immediately picked up the box and threw it outside. We saw a biohazard and we thought, “Oh my God. What could it be,” said Thomas Melum.
It was filled with dozens of COVID test samples from more than 5,000 miles away in Methuen, Massachusetts. Each vial inside the biohazard bags contained the names and dates of birth of the patients.
He was supposed to go to a lab in Chicago but somehow made it all the way to the Melum’s house. The father of three young children then called FedEx – the company which made the delivery on Saturday.
“I told them I don’t have a heart in a refrigerated box at the moment, but whatever lower level in terms of severity I think I do. And whatever your FedEx person is doing right now, they should probably stop and pick it up,” he said. “They didn’t share that level of severity.”
FedEx finally came to collect the box on Monday. The company said it was investigating the incident and issued a statement that reads in part: “This shipment was mistakenly mislabeled. We have worked directly with affected customers to correct the situation, and l The shipment has now been delivered to its recipient.”
Ahmad Hussain runs the COVID-19 testing site in Methuen and said the samples were most likely negative on a rapid test, but were sent off to be tested by PCR.
“I spoke to FedEx this morning and they went ahead and gave this package to our lab, and I informed our lab that these were people who were already waiting, to make sure that their samples be run as soon as possible,” the LabElite director said.
The Melum family said they hope something like this never happens again.
“The only thing that surprises me is that there have to be protocols for this stuff,” Melum said. “How many protocols weren’t in place for something like this to happen?”
Tests are currently being processed in Chicago.
As to how they got so mixed up, that remains under investigation.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)