Two English patients have died after being given kidney transplants that were infected with a parasitic worm. Darren Hughes, 42, and Robert ‘Jim’ Stuart, 67, shared the same transplant donor, who was carrying the parasitic worm in his organ when he died.
Both men underwent the transplant operation at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. The men survived the operation, but died three weeks later while living with the transplanted kidneys. Their health deteriorated rapidly following the surgery, and the official cause of death was Meningeoencephaltis, an infection brought on by the deadly worm known as Halicephalobus. Both deaths were extremely rare as there had only been five recorded deaths similar to it.
The families of the patients are taking legal action by having an inquest into their deaths which will be held next week. Medical negligence expert Julie Lewis spoke on the families’ behalf, commenting, “The families are both desperately seeking answers as to how these tragedies could have happened and what measures should have been taken to ensure the patients safety."
The medical firm where Lewis works at said that the donor had died from the same infection, which begs the question of why they would donate his organs to patients if they were still carrying the parasitic worm.
Ruth Walker, director of nursing at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, could not provide much information on the case before the inquest, commenting: "The health board requested its own independent, external review to establish why these patients died. That report has been provided to the coroner's office, and we continue to support his investigation into these tragic deaths. It would be inappropriate to comment further ahead of the inquest."