The number of organs taken from a donor who has succumbed to an overdose is increasing steadily across the Atlantic, especially for cardiac surgeries.
In the United States, the opioid crisis allows for a significant increase in heart transplants in the country. Researchers conducted a study on the characteristics of donors and the safety of these transplants. The results were published in the trade journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
More and more donors died from overdose
In 2017, out of all heart transplants in 11 US states, more than 20% of donors had died of an overdose. In comparison, in 2000, in most American states, less than 1% of donors had died of an overdose. The highest rate was 5.6% and concerned only one state.
Overdose has become the fourth leading cause of death for donors in this type of transplant: it has increased 14-fold between 2000 and 2017.
The researchers analyzed the profile of donors who died of an overdose. They find that their average age is less than 40 years, and that diabetes or hypertension are infrequent at home compared to the average donor. According to them, the victims of overdose have a heart healthy enough to become a donor.
"In the absence of significant differences between the survival rates of recipients of an organ taken from a person who died of an overdose and others, says Dr. Moazami, author of this study, increase this type of donation seems appropriate, this will potentially increase the number of hearts available for transplantation. "
The risk of hepatitis C
The main concern of the scientific community with regard to these organs is the risk of hepatitis C. Injecting drug use greatly increases the risk of having it. According to Dr. Moazami, the medical tools to test the disease have improved significantly and the treatments as well. Today, it is possible to cure the disease.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing, the US body responsible for administering transplants, more than 36,500 transplants were performed in the country in 2018. This figure had never been reached so far.