Saturday, Nov 01st

Last update:05:18:56 PM GMT

Organ transplant causes death in recipients

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A misdiagnosis has led to a handful of deaths .  A boy whose organs were later donated was originally diagnosed with menegitis as the cause of death, only later after his organs were transplanted into waiting patients was it learned that he really died of leukemia.

It turns out the teen didn't die from the ailment doctors thought had killed him. He'd had a rare form of lymphoma instead, and now his organs have caused others to develop the dangerous ailment.

A 52-year-old recipient who received his liver died four months after getting the new organ. The cause: lymphoma. A 36-year-old woman who gratefully accepted the pancreas suffered the same disease and succumbed. And two patients who took Alex's kidneys have now had them removed and are fighting their own life and death struggle against the cancer.

How could such a thing happen? The New York State Health Department has ruled no one was to blame, because all of Alex's symptoms fit the textbook descriptions of meningitis and that's what doctors treated him for. It wasn't until after his organs had been harvested and reused and an autopsy performed that the truth became clear.

This is really tragic.  The boy's family were trying to do a wonderful thing, trying to make sense of their son's untimely death by helping others to live.  But instead now they have to find out that their son's organs have caused death.  What a painful memory. 

You have to wonder how could leukemia be mistaken for menegitis.  Could the boy have been helped if he was diagnosed properly before his death?  Certainly the recipients of his organs would have been spared if he was diagnosed properly.

I hope the recipients families don't try to sue the boy's family.  This was not their fault.  The were trying to perform the ultimate act of kindness.  They were acting on the information they were given.  Actually, I hope no lawsuits come of this.  I think everyone involved has already paid enough.

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