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REPORT: Organ Donor Who Had Undetected Metastasized Breast Cancer Passed It On To All 4 of Her Organ Recipients


A anesthesiologist prepares a kidney donor in the operating room for a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The US Supreme Court is expected to announce their decision on the US President Barack Obama's healthcare law on June 28. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

“It remains unclear whether a predonation total-body CT scan of the donor might have revealed the malignancy,” the case study authors write. “The drawback of a routine postmortem CT scan for all donors is that it will increase clinically irrelevant findings, which might lead to more rejection of donors and a decrease of the already scarce donor pool.”

Dr. Frederike Bemelman, co-author of the case study and a professor at the Department of Neurology at the Academic Medical Center, Netherlands, confirmed to Newsweek that this was an exceedingly unusual case.

“In my practice of more than 20 years, this case really stands out,” Bemelman said. “One can extrapolate from this that the current policy for the acceptance and screening of donors actually works really well. However, when it happens, one should consider removing the donor organ, if possible, so that all immunosuppressive drugs can be stopped. This gives the immune system a chance to restore itself and start an immunoresponse against the tumor cells.”

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    Kat Merck is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. An amateur naturalist who stud... keep reading