Friday, 09 July, 2004

Transplant Patients Die of Rabies

Last week I ran across an article on Yahoo about three organ transplant patients who had died of rabies.  Yes, rabies.  The lungs, kidneys, and liver of an Arkansas man who died of a brain hemorrhage were transplanted into four patients in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama.  One of the patients died of complications during surgery.  The others died of rabies.  A fifth transplant patient, one who had received an artery, also died of rabies. The first three were relatively easy to track through organ donation records.  Tracking the cause of the artery recipient's death was a bit more difficult.

When you hear about stuff like this, the first response is "But they should have caught that!"  Maybe in a perfect world.  Who would have thought that you'd need to test donated organs for rabies?  I guess we could test for everything, but I suspect that attempting to do so would make it nearly impossible to perform transplants in a timely manner.