Organ transplants are incredibly risky procedures. Many health issues can result from an organ transplant, even when doctors take all of the necessary precautions. While doctors might not be able to prevent some of these problems, they should do everything in their power to limit the risk of such procedures. Failure to do so could be considered medical malpractice.
In the case of one Maryland patient, it wasn’t what doctors did that led to their demise — it’s what doctors did not do.
What they did not do is test a donor for rabies before they extracted his heart, kidneys and liver for transplanting purposes. As a result, the patient that received the donor’s kidneys died after contracting rabies.
Media reports did not specify the age or gender of the victim in the case.
Doctors overseeing the procedure did not suspect the donor had rabies, leading them to withhold testing for the ailment — a mistake that proved fatal. The other three patients that received organs from the donor are now being treated to fight the disease.
Sadly, this was the second time that rabies from an organ transplant caused a fatality. A similar incident played out in 2004 when an organ donor had rabies, which went undetected. One of the individuals that received organs died.
This scenario is incredibly rare, but doctors should never overlook a potential issue just because it is not common. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, less than one percent of diseased donors pass their ailment on to a recipient.
When it does happen, though, it can be very dangerous. During a transplant, doctors administer medicine that suppresses the immune system. If they contract an illness, it can quickly become life threatening.
The patient’s family could consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in the matter. The doctors’ failure to administer a basic test of the donor claimed a person’s life. The patient’s family could receive compensation for their pain and suffering.