The hidden dangers of organ donation

Surgery in the ICUMany of us in the UK carry cards to show that if we were to die unexpectedly, we would be prepared to allow our organs to be used to improve the lives of people needing transplants, and indeed, that donation may save someone’s life.

However, whilst receiving an organ may help to improve the recipient’s life, the speed needed to ensure the donor item is transplanted into the recipient means that there is always a possibility that problems with the donor item could be missed.

This has tragically happened where cancer has been present in a donor organ which was not picked up. The recipients of those organs have gone on to develop cancer themselves, and tragically in some cases, this has led to fatalities.

In a recent case, a man received a liver transplant that contained an undetected small cancerous tumour. Tom Tyreman recovered from the initial transplant operation a year ago, but tragically, died of cancer in February this year.
A recipient of a kidney from the same donor has now also developed cancer.

A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “in very rare cases it’s possible the donor has a small tumour which can’t be picked up by the tests performed in the limited time available prior to transplant”.

Sadly, this is not the only instance of this happening.

In 2007, the organs of a woman who died from a stroke were given to five recipients. Four of those recipients contracted aggressive “donor-derived” breast cancers. The fifth recipient died within five months, after developing sepsis.

In some cases, it took up to six years for the cancer to spread and be picked up by doctors. However, through DNA testing, the genetic profile of the cancer cells in each patient matched that of the original donor confirming that the source of the disease was from the donor organs.

Thankfully instances like this are extremely rare. However, when you believe you have a new lease of life because you have received a transplant, it can be devastating to realise you are now fighting another disease. Especially one that has been introduced to your body from an external source.

If you believe you have been the victim of clinical negligence, we offer free initial advice, and take all claims on a no win no fee basis. Call us today and see if you could make a claim for compensation.

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