In 2013, a man from Maryland died after contracting rabies from an infected kidney that he received as a transplant in 2011. This is only the second time that rabies has been transmitted through a donated organ in the US. Rabies is extremely rare in the US - causing only 1 to 3 deaths a year. Additionally, signs and symptoms of rabies usually appear within a month or two after initial infection, so the fact that the man’s symptoms appeared over a year after his transplant was something that steered doctors away from a rabies diagnosis.
According to reports, the kidney donor, a 20-year-old Air Force airman, died of encephalitis, however, doctors could find no reason for this. In fact, they believed he may have been poisoned, so they did a full medical work-up and tested for everything they could think of in order to try and determine the cause of his encephalitis. They didn’t think to check for rabies and declared his organs and tissues safe for transplantation - a major medical error on their part.
Read more: Medical Error Leads to Toxic Kidney Transplant