Transplant Transfers Allergy

in Food Allergy, Peanut & Tree Nut
Published: March 21, 2011

A 47-year-old Toronto woman experienced four anaphylactic reactions in the months following a double lung transplant. Doctors discovered that the boy whose lungs she received had a severe peanut allergy.

Dr. Susan Tarlo, a respiratory physician in Toronto who worked on the case, told Allergic Living in an email that it appears that the immune system cells that were sensitized to peanuts were also transplanted, which caused the patient to produce allergic antibodies against peanuts when she never had before.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to lung transplants, says Tarlo, who adds that the “transfer of food allergy has also been reported, [although] rarely, from liver transplant and from bone marrow transplant.” Fortunately, she says, the cells “do not stay forever in blood,” which explains why the patient in question was eventually able to eat peanuts once again.

Allergic Living reported on a similar cause in the Summer 2007 issue of the magazine. An 80-year-old woman who received a blood transfusion also inherited a peanut allergy, although it proved to be temporary.

No word yet on whether specific allergy screenings will be in place for future blood and organ donations.