While organ and tissue transplants save lives, a growing problem in the United States is actually putting donation recipients at greater risk of death. Tainted transplants, where organs or tissues come from donors with illnesses like hepatitis, cancer and HIV, are becoming a growing problem in the U.S., leaving already vulnerable patients at risk of further complications from the very procedures they need to save their lives.
Although tainted organ donations are rare, just one infected donor can transmit disease to potentially hundreds of recipients, depending on the scope of the donation made. Between 2007 and 2010, in fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigated more than 200 suspected cases of organ donor transmission of infection. The diseases passed on included hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. Several of the confirmed tainted organ donations led to the deaths of the recipient patients.
The great need for organ donors sometimes makes controlling for diseases much more difficult. An estimated 7200 people in the U.S. die each year while waiting for an organ they need; thus, the thought of rejecting any organ donation without irrefutable proof that it is tainted seems unimaginable. While every organ donor, living or deceased, must undergo testing before making a donation, the need for urgency in harvesting and transplanting organs occasionally allows for diseased organs to make it past screeners. While some of the transmitted infections might only be considered a nuisance in an otherwise healthy patient, the immune suppressants taken by organ recipients make them particularly vulnerable to any infection.
In order to combat the rising problem of tainted donations, the CDC's Office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety revised its 1994 organ donation guidelines to create more stringent protocol for safety screenings pre-and-post donation.
The revisions include:
- Recommendations for screening donors for hepatitis b and c, in addition to HIV
- Recommendations for improved sensitivity in lab tests used to screen organs
- More stringent criteria related to donor risk factors, so doctors can better assess potential risks related to the donation process
Additionally, the CDC has crafted new safety guidelines which require:
- Organ procurement groups to obtain donors' medical and lifestyle history
- Transplant centers to inform recipients if the organ they are slated to receive comes from a high risk factor donor
- Hospitals to notify organ procurement centers if they suspect a transplant recipient has contracted an organ transmitted infection
Better screening processes before organ donations and better post-operative monitoring could save the lives of numerous individuals. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of receiving a tainted organ or tissue transplant, you may be entitled to compensation and a medical injury lawyer at the firm can help.
Contact a medical injury attorney from Arnold & Itkin today for a free consultation regarding your case.