Patient Develops An Allergy To Kiwis Following Surgery

Patient Develops an Allergy to Kiwis Following Surgery

A 46-year-old man who underwent a bone marrow transplant has suddenly contracted an allergy to kiwi fruit. Scientists say it's the first evidence that allergies can be carried to a patient from a donor's stem cells. The unidentified patient, who was undergoing treatment for leukaemia, began to experience the allergic reactions -- including tingling and swelling of the tongue, lips and throat -- soon after the bone marrow transplant. He wasn't allergic to kiwis before the procedure, so a team of European scientists decided to conduct an investigation. Their ensuing study, which now appears at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, shows that allergies can be transmitted by the donor's cells -- and that the effect can be permanent.

In this case, the patient received haematopoietic stem cells (often referred to as "parent cells" because they give rise to other types of blood cells) from his sister, who it just so happens is allergic to kiwis. The purpose of the surgery was to transplant the sister's healthy stem cells into her brother as a way to reboot his blood and immune cells. The surgery worked, but it seems the haematopoietic stem cells brought something along with them, namely an aversion to kiwis.

Which actually makes sense. Allergic reactions happen when the body's immune system senses a potentially dangerous foreign agent, whether it be pollen or food. Even though these substances are harmless, the immune system freaks out and goes into attack mode. This can result in anything from an annoying rash through to a life-threatening anaphylactic shock. In this case, it seems that the anti-kiwi message was brought along with the sister's stem cells, and that this message was subsequently passed down to all the new cells that were produced after the bone marrow transplant. The researchers came to this conclusion after isolating the specific cells in the patient's blood that were reacting to the presence of kiwi fruit.

This isn't the first time that an allergy has been contracted by a surgery. In rare cases, blood transfusions and organ transplants can confer allergies, but only temporarily. Eventually, the active cells are replaced. But in this case, because the parent cells are carrying the anti-kiwi allergy message, it's likely permanent.

[European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, ScienceAlert]

Image: Dan4th Nicholas/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Okay my perspective I am a Registered Nurse and a bone marrow transplant patient who recieved my transplant some 8 years ago.

    1. It is not a surgical procedure it is simply a transfusion of a bag of what appears to be a very muddy colored blood, takes about 20 minutes for the actual transplant. then anything up to 2 weeks for the graft to take.

    2. I was warned prior to my transplant it could have possible effects on my allergies and it did, After the transplant my allergiy to aluminium chlorhydrate vanished ( I can now use under arm deoderants!).

    3. Unfortunately how ever I did not mysteriously develop the ability to play a musical instrement and am still tone deaf.

    4. Since this was documented and presented at an international hemotology conference, this case does not rate as first documeented proof.

    And on a personal note if you are offered a bone marrow transplant, think very long and hard and ask lots of questions about long term effects.

      Off topic but aluminium chlorohydrate is an antiperspirant. It has been shown to change the microbiome of the armpit to favour growth of stench producing bacteria.

      Sweat normally contains short chain fatty acids that are odorless and help regulate the pH of the skin (to keep it low ie acidic). If you block sweat ducts, this normal acid production and bacterial suppression action is also impeded. Ironically, this often causes more stink in the long term, leading to an arms race where the person applies more and more AP. In my opinion, the stuff is garbage and shouldn't be sold.

      Bone marrow transplants, particularly allogenic transplants, have numerous serious complications and side effects (like GVHD). But they are often the only option available to the patient.

      If you mean your case was presented at a conference, they meant this is the first peer-reviewed article. Conferences proceedings are rarely peer-reviewed (or even "published" in the full sense).

    I would have thought everyone would be allergic to Kiwis, I mean, their excent is rilly ennoying.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now