(CNN) - Four European patients developed breast cancer after receiving organs from the same donor, according to a case report in the American Journal of Transplantation.
The patients developed breast cancer years after their transplants, with three of them dying of the disease.
The one survivor did so after removing the transplanted organ, and quitting immunosuppression treatments that helped the person’s body accept the organ.
An abstract of the report concluded: “This extraordinary case points out the often fatal consequences of donor-derived breast cancer and suggests that removal of the donor organ and restoration of immunity can induce complete remission.”
One of the report’s authors noted that the donor recipients who got cancer did so from various organs, including the kidney and liver.
"The donor gave various organs,” said Dr. Frederike Bemelman, a professor of nephrology at the University of Amsterdam. “It has happened not only to our patient but also to the one who received the lungs, the patient who got the liver and the patient who had received the other kidney. These four unfortunate patients have all received cancer and we all know now that this all came from that same donor.”
Bemelman also said the case is an "extremely rare” example.
“This is very exceptional,” she said. “The chance that you get cancer from a donor is almost zero. This is also the reason that we have published this.”
Bemelman and her team’s study originally appeared in the journal in its July issue.