US organ transplants from drug overdose victims rise significantly during pandemic, study claims

May 24, 2022  17:26

Organs from drug overdose donors helped keep the number of liver transplants in the U.S. steady during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, new study says, UPI reported.

“When the pandemic began, we saw no decline in liver transplants, which seemed surprising since many surgeries were canceled or postponed,” said lead author Peter Lymberopoulos, a fourth-year medical student at St. George’s University. “Sadly, a key reason seems to be a surge of organ donors who died from drug overdose.”

Drug overdose is being rated as a public health crisis in the United States of America. Last year, more than 107,600 Americans died of drug overdoses, a record high, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported.

For the study, the researchers used the United States Organ Sharing Network's organ donation registry. They analyzed donor data for all organ transplants, including liver, 14 months before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (January 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020) and 14 months after it began (May 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). of the year).

The percentage of livers from donors who died from an overdose rose by 26% - from about 15% to just over 18% - from the pre-COVID period to the COVID-19 period. The use of drug overdose donors for all solid organ transplants has increased by almost a third, from about 14% to just over 17%.

Transplants performed in March and April 2020 were excluded from the study due to COVID-related hospital outages during those months.

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