Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chapter 9: Rabies from an organ transplant

As we should all know by now, getting an organ transplant should be a life saving procedure. Organ transplant has been done in the United States since the 1950s. The procedure is always improving and transplants are more successful than ever today. There are many protocols that the doctors have to go through for both the patient and donor before an organ transplant can be preformed.

In this unfortunate case, a Maryland man died from rabies because of an organ transplant after 18 months. The patient who is an army veteran received a kidney and contracted rabies. Rabies can be very fatal if it is left untreated. Globally an estimate of 55,000 people die of rabies every year and approximately 2 human rabies death are reported in the United State every year. However, the death are usually related to bats and not raccoon.  The CDC conducted a study and found out that the donor and the recipients both detected "rabies virus antigens, rabies virus neutralizing antibodies, rabies virus". Later, after an interview with the donor's family, it was concluded that the donor had a significant amount of wildlife exposure. The donor is a 20 year old who got sick from a fishing trip in Florida where he was undergoing Air Force Training. The donor also had two raccoon bites but did not seek medical treatment for it. There was three other recipients who also received organ from this donor but there are no signs or symptoms of rabies. They are also being monitored and being treated.



  1. Jack, that map was really insightful. Also, I was surprised when you said that “deaths are usually related to bats and not raccoons.” I am also curious as to what these “protocols” entail, and why this particular organ was not screened for such pathogens. Great summary. It's quite thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing, Jack.

  2. That is really unfortunate and scary. You would l think that people would try to do a more thorough background check before implanting an organ, then again maybe because the demand for organs for organ transplant is so high they only do a broad background of the donor organ and not a thorough one.

  3. Oh GOD this is a really scary thought. This is definitely something that needs to be addressed.