Last year, a Maryland man got a kidney transplant, which must have seemed like a blessing in disguise at the time. Well, it wasn’t; the man contracted rabies from his new organ a year after the transplant, and died not long afterwards. This is the second time on record in the United States that an organ donor has infected a recipient with rabies through an organ transplant.
There’s a lot that’s scary about this story, not least the fact that the donor’s organs had gone through routine eligibility screenings, including laboratory testing. Three other people received organs donated from the same man, an Air Force recruit who enjoyed hunting and trapping, and who apparently got infected by a raccoon bite. Luckily, none of them got rabies.
The CDC and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have both recommended updated and standardized procedures for testing donated organs for rabies to prevent similar situations in the future.
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