Two receive cancerous kidney in transplant

Two patients who underwent transplant surgery at a hospital on Merseyside were given cancerous kidneys.

59 year old Robert Law, who lives on the Wirral, had been suffering from chronic kidney disease for 5 years.  After his condition deteriorated he was placed on the kidney transplant list. His sister offered to be a kidney donor and following investigations it turned out she was a suitable match.

However, Mr Law, who was being treated at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, received a telephone call in the middle of the night in November 2010 offering a kidney from a non-living donor. He underwent the transplant within a matter of hours after he was assured the donated kidney had undergone extensive testing and was healthy

Six days after the surgery Mr Law was told that an autopsy had been performed on the donor who was found to have had lymphoma, a type of cancer. A biopsy was carried out on the donor kidney and Mr Law was informed that the transplanted kidney was cancerous.  He’s been affected both physically and mentally and is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy. As yet his prognosis is uncertain.

Robert says:

‘I am keen to publicise what has happened to me so that the screening of organs in the UK is improved and that patients are fully informed of the risks when they accept an organ. Had I known that this was a possibility I would not have accepted this organ and it is likely that I would now have a healthy kidney from my sister. I don’t know exactly what the guidelines are but perhaps they need to be made clearer on the issue of cancerous organs or donors so that this does not happen to anyone else”

Dr Peter Williams, medical director, said:

"These two patients were each on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. In November 2010, we were notified by NHS Blood and Transplant that two kidneys had become available, from a donor who died at another hospital.  

"When we received confirmation that the kidneys were suitable for transplant, our specialist transplant team discussed options and risks with these patients and obtained their consent.

"Both operations went well and it was only after a post-mortem had been performed that we were made aware of the donor's condition. We immediately fully informed both patients and discussed their options with them

"This is a very difficult and distressing time for Rob and Gillian and we continue to offer our full support, care and treatment to them. We understand that this has been a very upsetting experience for them but we would like to emphasise that such cases are very rare."