Transplant patients get rare form of cancer from donor

Jodi - posted on 03/23/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




Two patients in the UK were given kidneys from a woman with an extremely rare form of cancer

During a post-mortem examination on the donor done routinely after transplants, it was discovered she had intravascular B-cell lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is difficult to diagnose.

And to make the issue worse, both of the patients were ready to receive donations from their respective sisters but were instead given the diseased organs.

The patients, Robert Law, 59, and Gillian Smart, 46, are now receiving chemotherapy at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital – where they were given the kidneys late last year. They have also consulted lawyers about taking action against the hospital.

Mr Law, said: “I don’t know whether there is anyone to blame or not. We want to find out how, why and when and what mistakes have been made, if any. Given that I had a live donor, who has been tested, gone through all the procedures, why was I given a cancer-infected kidney from someone else?”

Miss Smart, from St Helens, said a transplant had previously been her ‘get out of jail card’. She added: “This was where my life could start again. Now I think, goodness, I may have many years of fighting a potentially fatal illness.”

The hospital’s medical director Peter Williams said a transplant team had discussed options and risks with the patients and had obtained their consent. He added: “This is a very difficult and distressing time and we continue to offer our full support, care and treatment to them.”

Also to note, the incident happened weeks before new rules in the UK were circulated to clinicians on obtaining consent from patients and warning them of risks. Post-mortems on donors before transplantation were impossible as they would take too long and render organs unusable.

The hospital’s chief executive, Tony Bell, said in a letter to Mr Law that “had there been any suspicion that the donor had cancer the transplant would not have taken place.”

Do you think the recipients have a case to sue for damages, given that there is no way the doctors could have known, and a decision needed to be made before an autopsy could possibly have been done (because the organs needed to be transplanted before they deteriorated), and given that this is one of the risks that is associated with a transplant, which was explained to them?


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Jodi - posted on 03/24/2011




But who could you be furious at if the cancer was undiagnosed? I can't see that a lawsuit could possibly be successful, because in order to do so, you would have to prove the doctors and/or hospital were negligent, or even partially responsible, and that isn't the case. The patients themselves would have understood the risks and still elected to use the donor kidneys instead of the ones from family. It was their choice to do this, with the full understanding of the risks of each option. You can't sue just because you are angry.

Sneaky - posted on 03/24/2011




Yes, yes, yes!!! Sue, sue, sue!!!!

They both had LIVING donors available - yes it would have affected the life expectancy of those donors, but they were willing to do that! As far as I know, donations from siblings are actually less likely to be rejected than a donation from an unrelated individual. Finally, why, oh why were those kidney's not given to patients who were not already preparing for a transplant because they did NOT have live donors? Oh yeah, probably because it was easier for the hospital than to call in two new patients and get them prepared. Grrrrrr.

I would be FURIOUS! And if litigation is a way for me to vent some of my anger, then I would be doing it.

Stifler's - posted on 03/23/2011




That sucks! I sound naive saying this but I never thought of that as a risk of having a transplant. I have no idea what to think about this.

Lacye - posted on 03/23/2011




I think they do have the right to sue. Both people had a person that was going to give them the organ that they needed. The deceased person's organs weren't really needed in those two cases.

Jodi - posted on 03/23/2011




Ah, but Desiree, people sue the manufacturer of a car if the accident was a result of a faulty part. For instance, let's say the brake system in the motor vehicle was faulty, and your car was still under warranty, and it wasn't a result of wear and tear, the manufacturer COULD be sued......even if they were unaware at that point that the part was faulty. That's why car manufacturers have recalls - because it IS their responsibility. But in order for them to recall because of a fault, generally there have been some failures reported first.....

Desiree - posted on 03/23/2011




I don't think they should be alowed to sue. It would be like me sueing a car manufacturer for injuries sustained during an accident while driving their vehicle. I know the risks I am taking when getting into the car, but the salesman hasn't given me a crash course on the possibilities. It's a risk you take. there is no way of knowing what other hidden illnesses this person may have. they may even have a genitic disorder not identified. nope its not right that person did it from the good of their heart, they gave their life so that person could live, besides who is too say that these people may not have gotten something else and least they have a chance, which is more than many people.

Caitlin - posted on 03/23/2011




I'm sorry, but these transplants were going to save their lives, nobody knew about the cancer, it obviously wasn't visible on the organs during the transplant (because they check the organs thouroughly) and with any operation on such a major organ is MAJOR surgery. Yes, it sucks for those 2 people, but in my mind it doesn't really matter if they had live donors or not. They consented to the operation, in my mind it wasn't a "medical error" so no, they shouldn't be allowed to sue, that's ridiculous!

Nikki - posted on 03/23/2011




No I don't think they should be allowed to sue. It's a terrible situation and I feel bad for them but the doctor's were unaware of the condition therefore they should not be liable. It will certainly open up a can of worms if they are able to sue, I am sure it will lead to a trend of disclosures before transplants occur.

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