Rabies Infected Donation Could Have Been Stopped

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Associated Press Release

March 24, 2013

Experts say a Maryland man who died last month of rabies might have been spared under transplant recommendations that hadn't yet been published when he got a kidney from an infected donor in 2011.

The guidance from the United Network for Organ Sharing came out in June, nine months after organs from the Florida donor went to four patients.

The only other U.S. case of rabies transmission through transplants occurred in Texas in 2004. That case helped lead to the creation of the panel that produced the recommendations.

The Disease Transmission Advisory Committee says it took so long partly because it had to gather enough data for its recommendations. It also decided to address more common diseases such as influenza and certain cancers first.

Associated Press Release

Public and military health officials say they're trying to identify people in at least five states who had close contact with an organ donor who died of rabies or with the organ recipients because they might need treatment.

Federal health officials said Friday that a 20-year-old Air Force recruit from North Carolina who died of rabies had symptoms of the disease but wasn't tested before his organs were transplanted in four patients, one of whom died of rabies nearly 18 months later.

The three other organ recipients are getting rabies shots and haven't displayed symptoms.

Investigators don't know why Florida doctors didn't test the donor for rabies before offering his kidneys, heart and liver to people in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland. The Maryland man who received a kidney died.