Hospital Nightmares: Can I Get a Disease From A Donated Organ?

Posted on January 11, 2016 by Shapiro Law Group


Donor organs are responsible for saving thousands of lives every year. However, donor organs can sometimes hide significant dangers, such as diseases and malignancies (cancer). If organ donors are improperly screened for conditions like hepatitis C or rabies, future patients can die or suffer permanent health effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 1 to 2 percent of donated organs cause disease or malignancies. In 2014, 29,532 people received organ transplants. If we do the math, 2 percent of 29,532 is 591 patients who may have received diseases or malignancies from donated organs.

How Are Patients Affected by Donor Organ Diseases?

The case of a British woman shows what happens when organ donations go wrong. According to the woman’s parents, their daughter received a double lung transplant to treat cystic fibrosis. The young woman was unaware the lungs she was to receive belonged to a middle-aged, pack-a-day smoker. Less than a year after receiving the operation, the woman developed terminal lung cancer and died at 27 years old.

Similar cases have occurred in the United States. In 2013, a patient in Maryland died after receiving an organ transplant infected with the rabies virus. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. In 2004, three patients died after receiving organs infected with rabies. Some transplants have also transmitted West Nile Virus, another potentially fatal disease.

Organ screening and testing can catch most health risks before transplants are carried out, but as we have seen, some cases fall through the cracks and patients pay the ultimate price.

Shapiro Law Group is a Tampa Bay personal injury law firm that represents victims of medical negligence throughout the state of Florida.

Tags: HospitalSafety


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