Up to 6 per cent of all patients who have an organ transplants will develop TB - and it's usually from the donor. In most cases the surgery itself activates the TB cells that had lain dormant in the donor.
TB among organ recipients in the US is 74 times higher than in the general population, and nearly 40 per cent of these die from the disease.
Although the US has a strict screening process before donor transplants can take place, nearly 2,000 people each year still develop TB after surgery. One patient died from TB three weeks after receiving a donor's organ, and he was one of three recipients who also developed TB from the same donor.
Researchers suggest that screening could be tightened to include a smear test that might detect dormant TB cells.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 299: 2018-9).