When 15 year old Alex Koehne died, it was believed that his death was caused by bacterial meningitis. However, the autopsy revealed that the death was actually attributed to a rare form of lymphoma.
This revelation would be rather unremarkable, except for the fact that Alex Koehne was an organ donor. His kidneys, liver, and pancreas were all harvested and implanted into waiting patients. Since that time, two of the patients have died from cancer. The other two are currently in chemotherapy.
Koehne suffered from a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer found in fewer than 1,500 patients in the U.S. each year. The lymphoma had spread to the donated organs and subsequently infected the donees.
The transplants were carried out at Stony Brook, NYU Medical Center, and the University of Minnesota. Experts believe that the case is so rare that it would have been difficult to predict this result, however the hospitals are reconsidering their transplant policies.