Raising brand new concerns within the medical community, a report was just released disclosing that three patients have died from breast cancer after receiving organs from a donor who didn't know she had the disease. The very unsettling information brings a touch of irony to a procedure that is meant to save a life but instead brings about its end in a most unexpected way.
Fox News is reporting that, according to the American Journal of Transplantation. “The female donor, 53, donated her kidneys, lungs, heart, and liver to patients after dying from a stroke in 2007.
“But, because doctors never picked up the cancerous cells in her vital organs, they acted as a deadly Trojan Horse.”
A total of five patients received organs from the woman, and four of them died within six years of their operations. One died from sepsis unrelated to the cancer cells, and the other three died from breast cancer, which quickly spread to their other organs. One is still alive.
The medical journal reports that the cases occurred at The University of Tübingen in Germany and VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. They provide details about the individual patients and how their conditions proceeded.
“They said the first patient to fall ill from the transplant was a 42-year-old woman who received both lungs. She died in 2009 after the cancer, which started in her lungs, spread to both her bones and liver.”
Doctors immediately performed tests on the remaining organ recipients, including a 62-year-old woman who received the donor’s left kidney, and the 32-year-old man who received the right one.
So far, the man has not shown any signs of cancer, but the woman died of liver cancer in 2014.
The third fatality was a 59-year-old woman who received the liver from the same donor as the others. Her cancer was discovered in 2011 and she was offered a second transplant. The woman declined and ended up succumbing to the disease.
The disease is referred to as breast cancer even when it starts elsewhere because that is where it originated.
Medical experts report that the odds of catching cancer from a single organ transplant are as little as one in 10,000.
Obviously, more care needs to be taken when selecting organs for donations, but it is definitely a moral dilemma. After all, if the recipient is battling a terminal disease and has waited on the transplant list for an extended period of time, knowing that they risk contracting cancer adds a new element of agony to their ordeal.
We can hope that, in the future, all organs will be tested for any and all potentially life-threatening diseases, as more stories like this come to the forefront.
Please join us in praying for all the families affected by this very unfortunate case.