Fatal Multiple Organ System Dysfunction Associated with Germanium Metal
Micha Shamir, Charles L. Sprung
Dept. of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Hadassah--University Hospital and Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem
The element germanium is widely distributed in nature. It is used in industry as a semiconductor and there have been a few attempts to use it in medicine. In the past few years 20 patients have been described in the literature as suffering from germanium overdosage. Like laboratory animals affected by the element, they suffer from renal failure and injury to other organs. We describe a 52-year old man given germanium to prevent recurrence of a brain tumor. He developed multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and died of intractable hyperdynamic shock. We call for caution regarding morbidity resulting from treatments believed safe.