German rabies alarm over infected organ donor

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 February 2005, HAMBURG - Several patients in Germany may have been infected with rabies after receiving organs from a donor who doctors believe had contracted the potentially fatal disease. The German Organ Transplants Foundation (DSO) in Neu-Isenberg said six patients in clinics across the country had received organs from the female donor who died in December. Two of the patients at clinics in Hanover and Marburg were in a critical condition, and a third patient was also showing symptoms of the disease

17 February 2005

HAMBURG - Several patients in Germany may have been infected with rabies after receiving organs from a donor who doctors believe had contracted the potentially fatal disease.

The German Organ Transplants Foundation (DSO) in Neu-Isenberg said six patients in clinics across the country had received organs from the female donor who died in December.

Two of the patients at clinics in Hanover and Marburg were in a critical condition, and a third patient was also showing symptoms of the disease, hospital authorities said.

Three patients who received organs have so far shown no symptoms of the viral infection.

Further tests on the donor are being carried out by the Hamburg Tropical Institute and the University Hospital of Essen, but the DSO said it was "highly probable" she had contracted rabies.

It is the first incident of its kind in Germany, Professor Guenter Kirste of the DSO said.

The lungs, kidney, pancreas, liver and cornea were taken from the 26-year-old donor who died of a heart attack after taking drugs, authorities said.

Hospital authorities in Mainz who removed the organs said all the prescribed medical tests were carried out but that no specific test for rabies existed.

Doctors learned only later that the woman had last October spent some time in India where several thousand people die of rabies each year.

She had shown no symptoms of the disease, which may be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal. The incubation period can, however, can last many months. Once the disease is established there is no treatment.

"Unfortunately it is not medically possible to rule out in advance rare infections of this nature, despite an extensive examination of the organ donor," Kirste said.

"A potential residual risk from infections of this kind remains for every transplant."

The organ recipient in Hanover believed infected is a young woman who had needed a lung transplant to survive, authorities said.

Heart transplant specialist Profesor Axel Haverich, of the Hanover clinic treating the patient, said doctors were "absolutely powerless" to prevent such a case.

"We have to do everything we can to see that new diagnostic test procedures are developed," he said.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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