This week we covered the shocking story of a Dallas teen who died just weeks after a kidney transplant infected him with rabies. While this medical malpractice case seems like a rare mistake or even a sensational story, infected and diseased donor organs are surprisingly common, and there have been dozens of documented cases of patients tying from tainted organs in the wake of a transplant here in Texas.
A recent study about diseased donation organs found that around 100 cases of infected organs are reported each year. The sobering part? The numbers are increasing each year, and researchers fear that the many cases are going unreported, as diseases and infections can be misdiagnosed and as complications from the transplant or are never connected with the donor organ.
Here are just a few recent cases of hospital mistakes involving infected donor organs:
- Peter C. Platt died after being infected with a deadly intestinal parasite he contracted during a kidney transplant.
- Last year, four people became violently ill after receiving organs from the same donor – a donor that was infected with a rare amoeba.
- In 2008, a New York man died after a transplanted kidney gave him cancer.
- In 2004, four patients contracted the HIV virus after receiving body parts from an infected donor.
As the need for more organs grows, hospitals are making the decision to take riskier donor organs, such as organs that came from sick patients, patients with a history of prison time or IV drug use, or patients without a known history. And because organs have to be used very quickly, a wide array of tests are often not possible. At the very least, some medical experts say, patients need to fully understand the risk of infection and disease that comes with organ donations.