Two Organ Recipients Die and Two Others Develop Cancer After Being Given Cancer Victim’s Organs

Litigation is expected in a terrible tragedy developing over the use of cancerous organs mistakenly given to organ transplant patients who later died or developed cancer. The organs were harvested from 15-year-old Alex Koehne, who was erroneously diagnosed with bacterial meningitis when he really died from a rare form of lymphoma. The has occurred as another family is suing the University of Pennsylvania for giving Tony Grier a cancerous lung in a transplant.

There does not appear to be any basis for liability by the parents of Alex, Jim and Lisa Koehne who acted on their doctor’s advice and tried to use the tragic death of their son to help others.

The doctors and hospital, however, could face some serious liability. It was not until a year later that the Koehne’s learned that an autopsy found that Alex from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They were also told that two of the recipients had died and two others had the donor kidneys removed and are in treatment.

While the two hospitals have revised their transplant procedures, some families are already retaining lawyers.

Notably, it remains rare to contract such disease from an organ transplant: Only 64 out of 230,000 cases, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

The Koehnes requested an autopsy. They were told a month later that Alex had actually died from a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer which affects fewer than 1,500 patients in the U.S. annually.

It is now quite common to see litigation over misdiagnosis, particularly in the failure to spot cancer before it spreads. Cases allowed recovery for reduction in survivability when cancer metastasizes. Here, however, the causation chain is longer. The misdiagnosis of Alex led to injuries to third parties. After for the hospital (as opposed to the original doctors for Alex), the liability is probably more clear in the failure to have proper tests and protocols to address this risk.

In the case of Tony Grier, the doctors gave him the lung of a pack-a-day smoker and then did not take action when a spot appeared on his lung a month later. His family is suing for $5 million. For the full story, click here.

For the full story, click here.

6 thoughts on “Two Organ Recipients Die and Two Others Develop Cancer After Being Given Cancer Victim’s Organs”

  1. If you have a chance look on google tony grier lung cancer and you can hear
    it for your self I was the one who took the video if it was your family what
    you do how would you feel saying the video

  2. Please go on google to tony grier lung cancer and you can hear the
    doctors tell us that tony was OK until after the transplant i have
    the video with doctors telling us that tony was fine and there was
    No cancer until after the surgery I know was there

  3. Too bad.

    My professional experience with transplant teams is that among the medical profession, they are probably the most intensely devoted members.

    I cannot imagine the surgeons at either end being less than meticulous in their representations, matching, selection, harvesting, and/or ultimately the transplantations of those organs.

    For the donors, the team, and primarily the recipient, hopefully, it all means a longer life in large part spent maintaining those often long-awaited, precious, organ gifts.

    It’s tragic, on at least three fronts, when something like this happens.

  4. D.W. call me super D.W. now! Please check out the entry Swear Once at the end. We need you to write a ballad.


  5. One of the most worrisome developments is the rise of communicable/contagious cancer. This is cancer spread by mere contact and is distinguished from the organ transplant mechanism above. There was an article in Harpers by David Quammen not too long ago on the topic.

    According to Quammen’s article, on Earth the “ancien regime” was a world of single cell organisms multiplying wildly and without check. Kind of like cancer in fact.

    The modern era in the planet’s history of life began with the rise of the multicellular organisms, where unchecked cell growth could not continue without disrupting the organism. Cellular apoptosis mechanisms developed, and cells would die “for the greater good” of the organism.

    The rise of strains of cancer in recent times that can infect organisms by contact, represents the ancien regime making an attempt at a comeback at the cost of us multicellular creatures!

    Since all of us salon habitues are card-carrying multicellular organisms this is almost as troubling as the current administration’s attempt at making a comeback of pre-New Deal political economic and legal arrangements.

    In both cases, brutal, primitive creatures (bacteria, prokaryotes, Bush, Cheney, etc.) attempt to subvert higher organizations on the evolutionary ladder. 🙂

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