A 15-year old teen dies from what his parents are told is bacterial meningitis.
They decide he should live on, so in a gesture of giving they donate his organs.
Now WCBS-TV is reporting that the organs spread an undiagnosed cancer to four who received them. Two of the organ recipients have died from the undiagnosed lymphoma says CBS. Two others have the disease and are fighting it.
Jim and Lisa Koehne requested an autopsy for their son, Alex who died a year ago. That’s when they found out he actually died of a rare lymphoma, but it was too late, his organs had been donated.
Transmitting cancer through donated organs is rare according to a Newsday report which also contains a videotaped story.
When Alex died, his organs were considered healthy enough to donate.
"Something was not handled correctly and it eats me alive every day," said Jim Koehne to Newsday who didn’t find out about the cancer deaths immediately because of privacy agreements signed in organ donations.
The Koehnes, who live in Sag Harbor, New York, say they are painfully aware that they are only one of five families affected by the extraordinary chain of events. "We don't need to cause others to suffer."
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.