NHS: Only two patients given organs from donor
The NHS transplant service yesterday said no other patient received organ or tissue from the donor whose organs gave cancer to two transplant patients. Tom Tyreman died in February after his new liver gave him cancer while Pauline Hunt has been diagnosed with the same disease after receiving a kidney from the same donor. Pauline and husband Gordon, who got married while she was in hospital, only knew another transplant patient had died because surgeons in Glasgow had to rush to remove her new kidney. Mr Tyreman’s widow Judy said: “Pauline and Gordon knew about us, but we did not know another family was involved until the inquest in September. We only learned it was Pauline and Gordon last week. We were kept in the dark. Completely in the dark.”
Professor John Forsythe, medical director for Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said every possible test was done on donated organs in the time available. Yesterday, the NHS Blood and Transplant service said no other organs had been transplanted from the donor. A spokesman said: “Our research has found the risk of transmission of a previously undiagnosed cancer from a donor to a recipient is less than 1 in 2,000 organs transplanted. “We can confirm that an investigation found all processes were followed correctly in this donation.”
Andy Welch, medical director for Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Freeman Hospital, said Mr Tyreman’s family’s concerns were being investigated, adding: “This investigation is currently on-going and the full outcome will be discussed with them on completion.”
‘ Knowing about Tom has made this double tragedy more painful
Tragic transplant patient Pauline Hunt yesterday told of her tears after hearing of the loss endured by the family of Tom Tyreman.
He died after getting cancer from his new liver and Pauline, who was given a kidney from the same donor, has been diagnosed with the same aggressive cancer.
She said: “I’ve known since surgeons were forced to remove my kidney in February that another transplant patient had died. “Actually learning about Tom and his family has made it so much harder to accept.
“I’ve been in tears thinking about them all and how they are coping with losing him the way they did. “Knowing about them personally has made this double tragedy so much more painful.” Pauline, who has two grown children and her parents to think of as well as her husband Gordon, 58, and his family, said speaking to Tom’s family has made them all even more determined to have the truth made public. She said: “Now we know even more of the circumstances about what happened to Tom, all of us are even angrier because now we believe we were deliberately kept in the dark to minimise the seriousness of what happened to spare the NHS and those responsible.
“Of course it’s important that patients and donors have confidence in the system but the way to do that is being open and accountable when things go wrong.
“Tom fought so bravely to stay alive for his family, and I am facing the same battle to stay alive for mine. Living with a death sentence makes every day precious, but every day is also so very hard for me and the people I love.” Pauline’s husband Gordon said: “Both families now have many more questions that need to be answered. “My focus right now is to make sure Pauline has everything she needs to make what is left of her life as comfortable as possible.
“But I will go to my grave fighting to make sure every single thing is investigated and made public.
“None of us will be fobbed off any longer. It is not good enough for the doctors to simply say everything was done and that there are no lessons to be learned. That should not be their decision and politicians at Westminster or Holyrood should be arranging a proper investigation into what has happened here.”
He added: “People need to be assured the procedures for choosing transplant donors are as safe as they can be, and that the protocols in place are as robust as possible.”
Pauline said: “All we were told was there could be an increased risk of developing cancer some years down the line because of drug treatments, not that cancer could be passed on from a donor organ.”
Mr Tyreman’s sister, Jane, said: “We were told the same. There was no warning an organ could pass on cancer. We are just grateful Pauline and her family are as determined as we are to get the truth.
“During Tom’s inquest, his transplant surgeon Professor Derek Manas gave evidence, but we were not allowed to question him. We now have many questions we would like answered by him and others, and we will fight to make sure that happens.” Pauline’s lawyer Cameron Fyfe added he has been struck by the similarities in the way both families have been treated. He said: “It appears both families say they were never told of the risk of cancer from their organ donor.
“The very least they all deserve now is complete transparency and all their questions answered.”
Transplant patient Pauline and Gordon on their wedding day
Pauline Hunt, at home in Ayrshire, says she was not properly informed of the risks