From 2008 through 2011, Kaul noted, more than 113,000 patients received solid organ transplants in the United States. Out of those, 139 people contracted some kind of a disease from their transplanted organ, such as cancer or an infection, and 29 people died as a result. By comparison, nearly 27,000 people died waiting for an organ transplant.
"Anyone involved in organ transplantation realizes that to get to zero in terms of the transmission of infections is not possible," Kaul said.
"That's not in any way to minimize the tragedy associated with cases like this where someone dies when they're getting a lifesaving organ. But we have to be very careful when we try to make new policy that's informed by one case because this is not a common problem," he said, adding, "we would wind up discarding lots of useful organs, and overall, we would do more harm than good."
To learn more about organ transplants, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing.
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