Scottish woman contracted deadly cancer from kidney transplant

Pauline Hunt and her now husband, Martin
Pauline Hunt and her now husband, Martin
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Scotland’s health secretary is demanding answers after a woman from Ayrshire contracted deadly cancer from a transplanted kidney.

Jeane Freeman has ordered an inquiry to look into the circumstances that led to Kilmarnock woman Pauline Hunt facing a “death sentence” as a result of receiving the organ.

Mrs Hunt, a former carer, was given the devastating news that she was at risk following the death from cancer of another patient, a man from Newcastle, who got a new liver from the same donor.

But despite emergency removal of the transplanted kidney, the aggressive cancer had spread and taken hold.

The 49-year-old has been told she is too ill to undergo chemotherapy to battle the incurable disease.

Speaking in the Sunday Post newspaper, Mrs Hunt said the situation has left her feeling let down and suicidal.

“When I was told that I had to have the new kidney removed because another organ recipient had died from cancer, I was panic-stricken,” she said.

“I was terrified. I was in tears.

“The doctors said that I had to have the kidney removed as a precaution, because there was a risk that I could be affected too. I was told I had no choice. My new kidney had to come out.”

The kidney had come from a 56-year-old woman who died as a result of a blood clot that moved to her brain.

As well as the cancer, Mrs Hunt has also developed the same dangerous blood clots and must get daily injections to stop them from killing her.

Having no kidneys means she must also undergo dialysis treatment three times a week.

The dreadful ordeal has taken her to “a very dark place”.

She said: “There are times when I can’t help thinking everyone would be better off without me. I’ve thought about walking in front of a lorry and ending it all, but I know that would hurt my family and they are hurting enough.”

Mrs Hunt and her fiancé Gordon married earlier this year, moving the wedding forward due to uncertainty over how much time she has left.

He insists there are questions that must be answered.

He said: “We need a proper inquiry to find out exactly what went wrong, not just for Pauline and the poor man who has already died, but for the thousands who are on the transplant waiting lists hoping to get the help that should save their lives, not kill them.”

A series of tests are carried out on potential donors ahead of any transplants, including blood analysis, scans, X-rays and examination of organs.

However, it is acknowledged that undiagnosed conditions can be passed on in rare cases.

Official figures show only 15 out of more than 30,000 UK organ transplant recipients developed cancer from the donor between 2001 and 2010.

The Scottish Government expressed their sympathy to Mrs Hunt and her family and promised an inquiry will be carried out.

A spokesman added: “The health secretary is seeking to ensure that all appropriate investigations are carried out into the circumstances of Pauline’s case so that any lessons that can be learned are determined.”