Dangerous parasite passed to patients by organ transplant - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Dangerous parasite passed to patients by organ transplant

By  Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

 JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - University Medical Center announced an unprecedented organ transplant Friday.  Unfortunately the news is not good.  UMC doctors told WLBT organs harvested from a patient who died there in November, are making some of  the recipients critically ill.

"This is an incredibly rare entity," said Dr. Kenneth Kokko, medical director of kidney transplants at UMMC.

It is called Balamuthia mandrillaris.  It's a microscopic parasite that is so unusual only 150 cases have been reported worldwide.  When a patient came to UMC infected with it, doctors ran extensive tests to find out what was wrong.  The unidentified person was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and died in November.  The family chose to donate the organs.

"This patient, due to the illness and due to the length of stay had many tests, many more tests to rule out infections than the routine organ donor," said Dr. William Cleland, chief medical officer for University Hospital Health Systems.

More tests were done on the organs and all came back negative. "Which reemphasizes the fact that there is no known test to pick this organism up to date," said Dr. Cleland.

Four organs were sent to patients in three different states.  Two people have never shown any symptoms of the amoeba.  The two other recipients are critically ill.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now confirmed the presence of Balamuthia mandrillaris in one patient.  This is believed to be the first human to human transfer of the parasite by organ transplantation.

"Hopefully it will never happen again in an organ donation and transplantation, but there won't be some tests that we'll be able to do in this point in time that would be able to discover the organisms prior to transplantation," said Dr. Shirley Schlessigner, medical director of the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency.

©2009 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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