Lawsuit Alleges Woman Was Given Cancerous Organ via Transplant

For many people, an organ transplant is quite literally the difference between life and death. One day, they may be clinging to life losing hope waiting for a donor and the next day they may have be on their way to a long, happy life thanks to the generosity of a donor.

However, it’s important to remember that organ donations/transplants — like all medical procedures — must be performed safely and in accordance with accepted medical standards. Failure to do so may have unfortunate and potentially deadly consequences.

Interestingly, a 39-year-old Chicago woman filed a lawsuit earlier this week alleging that the doctor, medical facility and organ donation network that facilitated her organ transplant acted negligently by providing her with a diseased organ.

Specifically, the medical malpractice lawsuit claims that back in the summer of 2008, a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center transplanted a cancerous pancreas secured by the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network into the woman and that she is now suffering from cancer.

It should be noted that while the complaint does not outline the reason why the woman needed the pancreatic transplant, medical experts indicated that such procedures are usually performed on patients with severe diabetes.

The director of the University of Chicago Medicine’s Transplant Center indicated that while there is a chance of developing cancer from a transplant, this risk is minimal.

“The chance of developing cancer after a transplant is very small, and the benefits of organ transplantation to the recipient, who typically has a life-threatening disease or condition, far outweigh such risk,” said Dr. Michael Millis.

As for the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, a spokesperson indicated that the organization screens donors for communicable diseases, combs through their medical records and interviews next of kin about possible medical conditions in the family. However, they also indicated that sometimes they don’t have a surplus of time following the death of a donor.

It should certainly be interesting to see how this medical malpractice case unfolds …

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times, “Woman files lawsuit charging transplanted organ was cancerous,” Kim Janssen, July 11, 2012

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