BACKGROUND: Bacterial contamination of platelet (PLT) components is an important cause of transfusion reactions. Recent efforts have focused on heightened surveillance to detect contamination before transfusion to limit recipient morbidity and mortality. Although identifying the cause of contamination is most often viewed in the context of recipient safety, this case illustrates the importance of a thorough evaluation on donor safety. CASE REPORT: A 68-year-old woman experienced a severe febrile reaction after a plateletpheresis transfusion. Blood cultures from the patient and from the plateletpheresis component were both positive for the presence of Streptococcus agalactiae. No abnormalities were identified on review of collection and processing records. The donor was asymptomatic and had a negative review of systems, a normal physical exam, normal laboratory values, and negative blood and urine cultures. One of three stool samples was positive for the presence of occult blood. Colonoscopy revealed a Dukes Stage B colonic adenocarcinoma. Fifteen months after surgical resection and adjuvant chemotherapy, the donor had no evidence of recurrent tumor. CONCLUSION: Identification of bacteria in blood components should trigger a comprehensive donor evaluation, particularly if donor bacteremia is suspected. Organisms that may be associated with an enteric source should prompt a thorough gastrointestinal evaluation. Because the primary reservoir of S. agalactiae in the human body is the gastrointestinal tract, and because no findings suggested an alternate portal of entry in our male donor, a gastrointestinal source was suspected. In this case, an evaluation for organism-specific pathology led to early identification of a potentially curable large bowel lesion.
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