Illinois Transplant Recipient Receives Rabies Vaccine After Doctors Give Him Organ From Infected Donor

According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a Maryland man died from rabies 17 months after receiving an infected organ during a transplant surgery. In addition, CDC officials stated three other individuals who received organs from the infected donor, including an Illinois man, are receiving anti-rabies injections as a precautionary measure. Illinois State Epidemiologist Dr. Craig Conover said the Illinois transplant patient is currently undergoing tests in an effort to determine whether he has any indicators of infection.

After the Maryland man died, health authorities reportedly launched an investigation into how he contracted the rare disease. CDC scientists then allegedly tested tissue samples from the decedent and the organ donor. The tests purportedly confirmed that both men died as a result of rabies. Transmission of the rabies virus through a solid organ transplant is apparently extremely rare. In most cases, humans contract the disease after being bitten by an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted through saliva and sharing both utensils and cups. Between one and three people die as a result of rabies infection throughout the United States each year. The last confirmed case of human rabies in Illinois reportedly occurred in 1954.

The incubation period for contracting rabies is normally one to three months, but can be much longer. Unfortunately, if anti-rabies shots are not administered soon after exposure, the disease is always fatal. Because rabies is rare and the window during which organs remain viable for transplant is short, most organ donors are not tested for the disease. Despite the fact that the organ donor at issue allegedly suffered from encephalitis, no rabies testing was performed on the 20-year-old because doctors allegedly did not suspect the virus played a role in his death. At the time, physicians reportedly believed the young man suffered brain swelling as a result of exposure to a food-borne toxin.

Sadly, some experts purportedly believe the Maryland man may not have been exposed to the virus if new transplant recommendations that were published nine months after he received the organ were followed in his case. The federally funded United Network for Organ Sharing now purportedly urges physicians to use caution when an organ donor suffers any brain inflammation. The organization reportedly published the guidelines more than seven years after the first known case of rabies transmission via an organ transplant killed four patients in Texas.

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional fails to provide a patient with the prevailing standard of health care. Medical malpractice may also result when a doctor fails to accurately diagnose or effectively treat a patient’s medical condition. Individuals who suffered harm as a result of medical negligence in Illinois have up to two years from the date they learned of the injury to file a lawsuit. If you were hurt or a loved one died as a result of medical negligence, you should contact a quality medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.

If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, please give the caring lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (855) 529-2442. Our hardworking Chicago personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours per day, every day of the week to help you file your claim. For a free consultation with an experienced advocate, please contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.

More Blogs:

Drivers More Likely to be Distracted by Cell Phones in Chicago and Throughout U.S., Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 24, 2013
Self-Driving Cars May Reduce Negligent Auto Accidents in Illinois and Nationwide, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2013
Additional Resources:

Rabies kills organ transplant recipient, by Deborah L. Shelton, Chicago Tribune

Experts: Man who died of rabies could have survived, by David Disheau,


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