Rising Drug Overdose Deaths up Organ Transplants

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Even though the opioid epidemic shows no signs of improvement, there is also a positive side of it. The drug crisis has offered a ray of hope to those in need of organ transplants. Ironic it may sound, but an increase in the number of overdose deaths has led to a rise in overdose death donors (ODDs) across the United States.

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www.coloradosubstanceabuseadvisors.com Rising Drug Overdose Deaths up Organ Transplants Even though the opioid epidemic shows no signs of improvement there is also a positive side of it. The drug crisis has offered a ray of hope to those in need of organ transplants. Ironic it may sound but an increase in the number of overdose deaths has led to a rise in overdose death donors ODDs across the United States. A recent study has found that the number of ODDs from jumped from a mere 1.1 percent in 2000 to 13.4 percent in 2017. The findings were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in April 2018. The authors concluded that the rise in ODD could help patients in dire need of a transplantation but unfortunately there’s a tragic underutilization of life-saving transplants. They also found that many organs were discarded as some of those who died from an overdose were identified as infectious risk donors carrying high prevalence of hepatitis C. ODDs and risk of infections Lead author Christine Durand assistant professor of oncology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins University shared that the use of organs from ODD is non-regulated but there are regulations in place for donors who have high risk of transmitting certain infections. Even though doctors try to do their best in gifting a life to someone waiting there is a stigma attached to “increased infectious risk” donors. In their study Durand and colleagues found that 56 percent of the ODDs were classified under the high-risk category. These donors had to undergo tests for hepatitis and HIV and sign consent for the transplant recipient. The authors took data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients which had data pertaining to the donors wait-listing candidates and transplant recipients from January 2000 to September 2017. As many as 7313 ODDs were identified from whom no less than one

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www.coloradosubstanceabuseadvisors.com organ was recovered. There were at least 19897 transplants from these donors and the ODDs rose by 17 percent every year during the given period. The researchers also identified two other categories of donors – those who died due to traumatic death experiences and those who died due to medical complications. While the number of donors in the first category increased by 1.6 percent per year the number of medical death donors rose by 2.3 percent per year. Underutilization of resources The research team made an observation that the number of ODDs rose from 66 in 2000 1.1 percent of the national pool to 915 from January to September in 2017 13.4 percent of the national pool. A 24-fold upsurge in the number of transplants – from 149 in 2000 to 3533 in 2016 – was discovered. Even though the research team got good results in terms of organ function and patient survival after receiving transplants many organs were discarded especially from donors who died due to trauma. Kidneys were abandoned at a rate of 14 percent and the reason was primarily that of infections. Looking at a large number of recovered discarded organs Durand stated that the benefits and risks must be weighed in transplant surgeries given that now the treatment is available for hepatitis C. Dr. Camille Nelson Kotton clinical director of transplant and immunocompromised host infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital penned an editorial for this study and stated that enhanced efforts were necessitated for providing organs to the patients who may derive long-term benefits from it. The road ahead Despite some limitations like the authors were unable to determine how many ODDs were due to opioid overdose the study is important in establishing a link between the implications of opioid overdose and organ transplantations. The authors also established that the transplant results were comparable to other cases in which patients died from reasons other than opioids. The authors stressed that it is important to bridge the gap between the number of organs procured and underutilization of resources. Even if drug overdose deaths are helping in better availability of organs for those in need it is important to save lives claimed by such avoidable reasons. Treatment is an important way to minimize drug overdose casualties. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and is in need of help contact the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors for information on some state-of-the-art substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline 866-300-5857 to get connected to the best addiction help center near you.

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