Lung Transplant Transfers Food 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 who worked on the case, told Allergic Living that it appears that the immune system cells that were sensitized to peanuts were also transplanted. This caused the patient to produce allergic antibodies, called IgE, against peanuts when she never had before.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to lung transplants, says Tarlo. She adds that the “transfer of food allergy has also been reported, although rarely, from liver transplant and from bone marrow transplant.”

Transfer of Food Allergy Temporary

Fortunately, Tarlo says, the cells “do not stay forever in blood,” which explains why the transplant transfer of the food allergy was temporary. The patient in question was eventually able to eat peanuts again.

Allergic Living reported on a similar cause in the former print magazine in 2007. An 80-year-old woman A blood transfusion also transferred a peanut allergy to an 80-year-old woman. However, the peanut allergy, proved to be temporary.

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