UW Medicine seeks to lower the risk of cancer transmission through transplanted organs

Patient engagement solutions and patient provider communication is vital for the progress of healthcare. Jorge Reyes, MD, chief of transplant surgery at UW Medicine, shared various steps the health system takes to lower risks of cancer transmission, caused due to transplanted organs. These steps were announced after a European organ donor whose undetected breast cancer was transmitted to four other individuals via transplants.

These are four things to know:

1)      Among all U.S. organ transplant surgeries, cancer transmission affects less that 1 percent of recipients.

2)      UW Medicines rejects organ donation offers from recipients with a history of cancer, to limit chance of transmission. They do get organ offers from a prospective donor who has a history of breast cancer, and the company rejects them every time.

3)      Prior to transplantation, all organ donors have to undergo a comprehensive physical exam and medical record review. They test the donors for potential bacterial and viral infections that could be spread to the recipients, which is a top priority.

4)      Dr. Reyes said a checklist, similar to ones clinicians use before surgeries can certainly be utilized to improve the organ donor screening process.