Mississippi organ case prompts review

Dec. 28, 2009 at 1:41 PM

OXFORD, Miss., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Health officials who coordinate U.S transplant surgeries say they will examine policies on using donors who have certain neurological disorders.

The review was prompted by a case at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in which two kidney transplant patients contracted a brain infection from an organ donor, The New York Times reported Monday. The center disclosed the situation Dec. 18 after the transplant recipients became critically ill.

"This will be discussed by a collaborative group of experts at a national level" to try to make the system safer, Dr. Shirley Schlessinger, a transplant nephrologist at the center, told the Times.

About 1 percent of transplant recipients have contracted a disease from the organs of deceased donors, said the Network for Organ Sharing, which coordinates transplants in the United States. Transplant recipients are especially vulnerable because medication used to prevent organ rejection suppresses their immune systems.

More than 100,000 people are on waiting lists for transplants, and an estimated 9,000 die each year because so few organs become available, the network said.

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