Organs from drug overdoses could help transplant shortage


Fatal drug overdoses are increasing organ donations, and researchers reported Monday that people who receive those transplants generally fare as well as patients given organs from more traditional donors.

The findings could encourage more use of organs from overdose victims. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found those transplants have jumped nearly 24-fold since 2000. That was before overdoses were making headlines or most transplant centers considered accepting such organs.

In 2016, there were 3,533 transplants using overdose-related donated organs, up from just 149 such transplants in 2000, the study found.

Deaths from overdoses are on the rise yet most occur outside hospitals, blocking organ donation. Still, those deaths now account for about 13 percent of the nation's deceased organ donors, up from 1 percent in 2000, the researchers calculated.

"This is not an ideal or sustainable solution to the organ shortage," lead researcher Dr. Christine Durand wrote in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

But with nearly 115,000 people on the national waiting list for a transplant, the Hopkins team concluded that use of organs from overdoses "should be optimized" because many transplant candidates could die waiting for another choice.

For Monday's study, the researchers used a U.S. registry to compare the outcomes of nearly 338,000 patients who received a transplant between 2000 and 2016, from either a donor who died of disease, trauma or an overdose.

In general, transplant recipients' survival was similar with an organ from an overdose victim. In fact, compared to donors who died of disease, they sometimes fared a little better because overdose donors tend to be younger and less likely to have had high blood pressure, diabetes or other ailments that can affect an organ's function, the researchers reported.

The study found that overdose-related organs are more likely than other donated organs to be classified as at "increased risk" of infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C. But the Hopkins team said with improved testing of all donated organs to uncover infections — and new, effective medications for hepatitis C — the overall risk for transplant candidates is low, and should be carefully weighed in determining the best option for individual patients.

"It's reassuring that these organs do work well and provide a lot of benefit," said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the U.S. transplant system. He wasn't involved in the research.

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Health

Acute flaccid myelitis: CDC sees rise in cases, seasonal pattern to polio-like illness
Acute flaccid myelitis: CDC sees rise in cases, seasonal pattern to polio-like illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting an increase in cases of a rare polio-like illness affecting kids. So far this year, the CDC has confirmed 62 cases acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in 22 states, and has received reports of 127 patients who are under investigation. >> Read more trending news  The CDC started...
Salmonella outbreak linked to raw chicken sickens 92 people nationwide, CDC says
Salmonella outbreak linked to raw chicken sickens 92 people nationwide, CDC says

Salmonella linked to raw chicken has made dozens of people sick across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.  In total, 92 people from 29 states have been sickened in the outbreak.  The CDC said 21 people have been hospitalized, but no one has died.  The people who became sick reported...
Get the most mouth-watering Dayton food news delivered to your inbox with new weekly email
Get the most mouth-watering Dayton food news delivered to your inbox with new weekly email

Everyone has to eat, right? But deciding where to eat and what to eat can be the hardest part.  We can help you with those decisions. Our brand new weekly food email newsletter, Dayton Food & Dining, is available now.  Every Thursday, we will deliver straight to your inbox:  • The latest restaurant openings and closings  &bull...
Christmas 2018: Target to offer cheese Advent calendar this season
Christmas 2018: Target to offer cheese Advent calendar this season

Target has the perfect holiday gift for the cheese lovers in your life -- a cheese Advent calendar.  The store has teamed up with a company called So Wrong It’s Nom, KYW reported.  Officials with the company said the calendar will be available in 247 Target stores in the U.S., and can also be found in stores in the UK, France...
WORTH THE DRIVE: Why there’s no better time than now to plan a ziplining trip to Hocking Hills
WORTH THE DRIVE: Why there’s no better time than now to plan a ziplining trip to Hocking Hills

Dubbed the “Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest,” Hocking Hills offers several options to get a bird’s-eye view of the bright and beautiful changing autumn foliage that will take place this fall. Soaring Cliffs Canopy Tours, a Super Zip and an XTreme canopy tour that takes travelers right through a waterfall and into a cave are some...
More Stories