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An unexpected microbe is killing organ transplant patients

from Science

A 44-year-old man appeared to be recovering nicely after a double lung transplant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. A week after the surgery, however, the patient, whose own lungs had been ruined by the inflammatory disease pulmonary sarcoidosis, grew confused and then became delirious. Although a brain scan found nothing wrong, tests showed that the amount of ammonia in his blood had spiked — and continued to rise even after dialysis to remove the toxin. Forty days after his surgery, he died.

Now, a new study implicates bacteria that normally live in the urinary tract as the cause of the man's fatal illness and the deaths of other lung transplant patients. The work suggests a way to treat a rare but deadly complication of organ transplantation and cancer treatment. more


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