Sometimes you really just want a peanut butter-jelly sandwich. And as long as you are not allergic to the ingredients, that's fine. At least one woman thought.
The 68-year-old woman, who had never suffered from peanut allergy, had a severe allergic reaction to the sandwich, according to a recent report on her case, August, in the journal Transplantation Proceedings. But someone else had a peanut allergy, it turned out: the donor who had provided the woman with a lung for the transplant.
It is very rare for lung transplant recipients to receive a food allergy from a donor organ, said the case report author dr. Mazen Odish, University of California Lung and Intensive Care Fellow, San Diego Medical Center, who treated the woman. [27 Oddest Medical Cases]
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. There are only about four or five case reports in which organ recipients have received peanut allergies with anaphylaxis following a lung transplant, Odish Live Science reported.
Identification of the offender
The woman in the case needed a one-lung transplant to treat her emphysema, a condition that damages the air sacs in the lungs and makes breathing difficult. She received a new left lung from a 22-year-old male donor, Odish said.
The woman's recovery progressed well after the transplant, but the day before she was to leave the hospital, she felt her chest tense and found it very difficult to breathe, according to the report. At first, her doctors were not sure why she felt these symptoms of respiratory arrest, and the tests that were done at that time did not give a clear explanation.
It was not until the woman mentioned that her symptoms started immediately After she had eaten a PB & J sandwich, doctors began to suspect a food allergy, although the woman lacked other common allergy symptoms, such as rash or abdominal pain.
Because the woman had never had any problems eating peanuts before, doctors contacted the transplant office, who confirmed that the male donor had a known peanut allergy.
The woman seems to have received not only the lungs but also a peanut allergy from the donor, Odish told Live Science.
Although it is rare for food allergies to be transmitted from organ donors to transplant recipients, it is the case: Cases of food allergies acquired by organ donors have been reported by the liver, kidney, lung, and bone marrow, heart, and breast Kidney transplants, the authors wrote.
But not every transplant recipient who receives an organ from a donor with food allergies absorbs the sensitivity that can occur days to months after transplantation. For example, studies have suggested that children and people receiving a liver transplant are more likely to develop food allergies from organ donors.
Other research has shown that graft-acquired food allergies are more common in organ recipients than tacrolimus, an immunosuppressive drug used to reduce the risk of organ rejection after transplantation. The woman had tacrolimus in this case.
Skin tests later confirmed that the woman was allergic to peanuts and tested positive for almonds, cashews, coconuts and hazelnuts. The doctors advised her to avoid peanuts and nuts, and she received an epiPen for another serious allergic reaction to these foods.
It is unclear whether the food allergies acquired through transplantation remain a lifelong problem for patients, Odish said, because this is the case. It is possible that the allergy is decreasing in some individuals. Allergy physicians will likely continue to test the woman for peanut and tree nut allergies to see if her tolerance to these foods changes over time.
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Originally published on Live Science.