Increased Organ Availability for Transplantation Related to Opioid Epidemic

A letter to the editor (MR Mehra et al. NEJM 2018; 378: 20: 1943-45) provides a perspective on the increasing availability of organs for transplantation from drug overdoses/opioid epidemic from 2000 to 2016.

Key findings:

  • “The drug-abuse epidemic has been associated with a sharp increase in the recovery of organs from brain-dead donors in the United States but not in Europe. “
  • “The U.S. data indicate that survival among recipients from donors who died from drug intoxication is similar to survival among recipients from donors who died from other causes.”

My take: Opioid use is more likely to place one at risk for needing a liver transplantation due to increase acquistion of hepatitis C infection and is more likely to make a donor available due to drug overdoses.

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