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Organs from overdose-death donors can prevent organ shortage, says study

Organs from overdose-death donors can prevent organ shortage, says study

05-24 | CDAH Team

The worsening opioid epidemic in the United States has led to an incredible increase in the number of organ donors due to the massive rise in drug overdose deaths. A research published recently in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that the number of donors due to overdose death spiked from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 13.4 percent in 2017.

The study also suggested that the rise in the number of organ donors will effectively overcome the current scarcity of organs in the U.S. Shockingly, the data showed that many organs from overdose-death donors were not used to save lives from 2000 to 2017. The underutilization of organs for lifesaving transplants has emerged as a matter of grave concern among experts, policymakers and other stakeholders. With so many patients waiting for a new life, it is necessary to optimize the use of all organs donated.


Key findings of the study

The study conducted by the researchers from the Johns Hopkins University involved data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, including information on transplant recipients, donors and wait-listed candidates from 2000 to 2017. The researchers determined 7,313 overdose-death donors who had at least one organ recovered during this period. Moreover, there were 19,897 transplants from those donors.

Based on the data, they found that the number of overdose-death donors increased by 17 percent between 2000 and 2017. Additionally, the number of trauma-death donors increased by 1.6 percent and medical-death donors by 2.3 percent per year. As a result, there was a 24-time increase in overdose-death donor transplants.

Despite the above positive outcomes, the study found that about 56 percent of overdose-death donors were marked as increased infectious risk donors. These classified donors need to undergo the additional testing for hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Since a lot of stigma is associated with infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, people are often not ready to accept organs from the donors labelled as “increased infectious risk donors” despite the low risk of infection. Reportedly, the patients who had received transplants from these donors have showed excellent results.

The reasons for patient survival and organ function were similar among both transplant recipients and donors, such as death due to trauma or medical reasons like heart attack, stroke, etc. Another major reason for the underutilization of donated overdose-death organs was that many of them were discarded. It was also concluded that these organs were discarded at a higher rate than trauma-death donors.

According to Dr. Christine Durand, lead author of the research and an assistant professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, the present epidemic of overdose deaths can turn out to be more catastrophic, if lifesaving transplants from overdose-death donors remain underutilized. Therefore, she underlined the need to optimize the use of all donated organs. These findings may help to save more lives.


Exercise caution to prevent drug addiction

Despite the increase in the number of overdose-death donors playing an effective role in overcoming the scarcity of organs, it is essential to avoid drugs due to its harmful health consequences. Many a times, users are unaware of the potency of life-threatening drugs and inadvertently become addicted to them. If someone is suffering from drug addiction, then he or she needs to exercise adequate caution to decrease the likelihood of overdosing.

A person must be aware of the content and effects of drugs consumed to avoid any untoward situation. An appropriate and efficacious addiction treatment plays a pivotal role in managing overdose deaths and achieving sobriety. If you or your loved one is struggling with drug addiction, connect to the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline to know about the state-of-the-art drug rehab centers in Colorado that specialize in the best evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 or chat online for further information on addiction treatment in Colorado.


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