The parents of 15-year-old Alex Koehne wanted their son to live on after passing away from what they were told was bacterial meningitis. After careful consideration Jim and Lisa Koehne decided to donate his organs in order to help others. They also requested an autopsy to have better picture of the events that lead to the death of their beloved son. The autopsy discovered that a previously undiagnosed rare form of lymphoma actually caused the boy’s death. Unfortunately four people had already received organ transplants from Koehne before the cancer was discovered by the autopsy. Now WCBS-TV is reporting that two of the four organ recipients have also died as a result of the undiagnosed lymphoma. The other two are still currently fighting the disease.
Both the hospitals that received the organs and passed them on have been cleared of any flaws in policies.
New York University and the University of Minnesota, which also transplanted one of the diseased organs, have changed their policies and now require stronger proof of bacterial meningitis.
The transmission of cancer through donated organs is a very rare occurrence, but I am sure that offers little compensation to the families of those infected with cancer through the process. Efforts are being made throughout the medical community to ensure that such costly mistakes are eliminated completely.