Organs From Drug Addicts ‘used In Transplants’
Hundreds of below standard hearts, lungs and kidneys have been taken from drug addicts and transplanted into critically-ill patients, The Daily Telegraph has been told.
Three per cent of the organs transplanted into patients in the past five years came from donors with a history of drug abuse – some of whom died from an overdose – figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed. One transplant surgeon said doctors were “desperate” for organs and had to use some they would otherwise have rejected. The findings sparked renewed calls for a change in the law to presumed consent – in which everyone is included on the organ donor register unless they specifically opt out.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, called for the change earlier this year and the Department of Health ordered a taskforce to investigate the proposal.
Drug addicts are more likely to have hepatitis or HIV.
Although the transplanted organs are screened, there is still a risk of passing on an infection that has not yet shown up on tests. The quality of the organs can also be affected, raising the risk of complications.
The figures released by UK Transplant, which runs the transplant programme, show that between April 2002 and March 2007, 450 organs were taken from donors with a history of drug abuse, including people addicted to prescribed medication, over the counter drugs and illegal narcotics.
Of the 450 organs used, 212 were kidneys, 126 were livers and 39 were hearts.
A New Study Challenges The Rationale Used To Reject The Use Of Vital Organs Harvested From Deceased Opioid Users
One morbid benefit of the long and deadly opioid epidemic that claims tens of thousands of lives every year in the United States is an increase in available human organs for transplant.
Now, a new study in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery shows that the hearts removed from overdose death donors , who often tend to be younger and healthier, provide “favorable heart donor quality” and as-good-or-better outcomes than organs harvested from donors who died from other causes.
“One of the roles of the transplant community is to at least partially mitigate the tragedy of this exponentially growing problem by maximizing the utilization of organs from ODD,” said study lead author Nader Moazami, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York, in accompanying remarks.
Using data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients for the years 2000 to 2017, Moazami’s researchers looked at trends in organ donation and transplants among drug overdose deaths.
Of the nearly 16,000 heart transplants from adult donors during this period, opioid overdoses were the fourth most common cause of death, behind blunt injury , hemorrhage/stroke , and gunshot wound .
In 2017, according to Moazami’s research, overdoses accounted for more than 20% of donor deaths in 11 states. In 2000, the highest state’s rate was 5.6% and 33 states had less than 1% of donor deaths attributed to overdoses.
A Young Life Lost To Drugs
Jecker struggled with drugs for nearly half her life. A relative started giving her the opioid Lortab for menstrual cramps, her mom said, and she got hooked. It just snowballed from there.”
Jecker began smoking pot and abusing the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, hiding her drug use from Parsley and her husband.
In her later teen years, Jecker gave birth to a daughter and dropped out of high school. But she managed to get a GED and land a job working the line at Ford, where Parsley also works as a crane operator.
Parsley said addiction never eclipsed Jecker’s caring spirit. When she turned 18, she excitedly told her mom that shed signed her drivers license to become an organ donor because it might help someone in the future.
At 21, Jecker finally admitted to her mom she had a problem with pills.
One day in May 2017, Jecker texted Parsley from work: “Mom, if you dont hear from me for a few days, dont be alarmed. Im OK.”
She told Parsley that shed approached a union representative asking for help, and Ford paid to get her a taxi to The Brook, which offers addiction treatment. She left straight from the plant.
She stayed 30 days, then relapsed soon after she got out. She went back again.Parsley tried to support her recovery. A few days before Jecker died, Parsley went to The Brook to bring her daughter a bag of clothes and some cigarettes. Jecker came out, dressed in black and wrapped in a blanket.
I cant help it, Parsley replied. I just want you to get better.
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Effects Of Drug Addiction On The Brain
All drugsnicotine, cocaine, marijuana and othersaffect the brains reward circuit, which is part of the limbic system. This area of the brain affects instinct and mood. Drugs target this system, which causes large amounts of dopaminea brain chemical that helps regulate emotions and feelings of pleasureto flood the brain. This flood of dopamine is what causes a high. Its one of the main causes of drug addiction.
Although initial drug use may be voluntary, drugs can alter brain chemistry. This can actually change how the brain performs and interfere with a persons ability to make choices. It can lead to intense cravings and compulsive drug use. Over time, this behavior can turn into a substance dependency or drug and .
Alcohol can have short- and long-term and disrupts the brains communication pathways. These can influence mood, behavior and other cognitive function.
Brain damage may also occur through alcohol-induced nutrition deficiencies, alcohol-induced seizures and liver disease. In pregnant women, alcohol exposure can impact the brains of unborn babies, resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
It is reported that alcohol-induced brain problems can often be corrected with proper treatment. Abstinence from alcohol for months or years can help partially repair thinking abilities, like memory skills.
Donating Plasma Faq: Everything You Need To Know About Plasma Donation
Do you want to donate plasma, either to earn a little extra money or to help your community? Although its a fairly common practice, its a little more complicated than donating blood. If youre thinking of doing this for the first time, you might be uncertain what to expect. Read on for our guide to frequently asked questions about the requirements for donating plasma and the process overall.
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Changes In Medical Practice Have Affected Who We Seek Out To Be Donors
As transplant programs have become more willing to match patients with donors who are at elevated risk of carrying viral diseases, organ procurement organizations like New England Donor Services have been energized to pursue such donors. This falls to staff like Daniel Miller-Dempsey, a family services coordinator who deploys to hospitals to meet with the kin of potential donors. Traveling by car, he covers facilities all the way from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Bangor, Maine.
Despite his relative youth, at 42, Miller-Dempsey has worked at the organization for 18 years. He says he was drawn to it more as a calling than as a job. When he was a teenager, his father fell ill, and both he and his sister ultimately became living organ donors for him. This introduced Miller-Dempsey firsthand to the suffering of patients and the reward of donation.
Now having spent nearly two decades working closely with people bearing witness to the death of a family member, he says there is a universality to the experience. But overdose deaths have a unique poignancy.
Those people are better off here, having fought their battles with drugs and won, for their families and for their kids, he says. Its heartbreaking to know that so many people are dying from this.
How The Opioid Overdose Epidemic And Organ Donation Became Connected
The uncomfortable nexus between the opioid overdose epidemic and organ donation evolved because its relatively rare for someone to die under conditions that allow for organ donation but opioid overdoses often meet those conditions.
For organs from the dead to be eligible for donation, the donors typically will have suffered brain injuries so catastrophic they will never revive, yet will have arrived at hospitals in time to be put on a ventilator that continues circulating blood to their organs. In the US, these circumstances occur in fewer than 1 percent of deaths: The leading causes are strokes, blunt injuries including car accidents, and cardiovascular incidents. Now fatal opioid overdoses, which can slow respiration to the point that the brain is starved of oxygen, are a growing part of that list.
According to preliminary data, 49,031 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2017, and opioids made up two-thirds of total drug overdose death in the US.
The epidemic has affected the whole country, but some states have been hit harder than others: Opioid overdose death rates are highest in most of the Northeast, including Massachusetts. We started noticing the increase in overdose deaths in 2012, says Alexandra Glazier, director of New England Donor Services, which coordinates organ donation across much of the region.
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Organ Donations From Overdose Deaths On The Rise But Stigma Remains
The increase in overdose deaths from the opioid crisis in the United States has led to a sharp rise in the number of organ donations from people who died from overdose. But the stigma surrounding those organs results in many going unused.
Dr. Christine Durand from Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore and her colleagues analyzed all organ transplants in the US listed in the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients for the past 17 years. They found a dramatic rise in the number of donations from overdose-death donors. Such donors accounted for only 1.1% of donations in 2000, but that increased to 13.4% by 2017. Now more than one in eight deceased donors died from an overdose, she said.
They also looked at how organ recipients fared after receiving donations from overdose deaths compared to other deceased donors and found essentially no difference in standardized five-year survival. The outcomes were excellent. Equivalent to, if not better than, those from trauma deaths or medical deaths, she said. We were quite reassured by that.
But organs from overdose deaths, especially kidneys and livers, were also discarded at higher rates than those from other sources. Durand said this is partly because the prevalence of hepatitis C infections was high among those donors, at 30%, which scares off patients and clinicians. But thats not the only reason. Organs from donors who tested negative are still being discarded, she said.
Drug Users Have Supplied Almost One In Five Organs Used In Transplant Surgery New Figures Reveal
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The statistics from NHS Blood and Transplant show the number of organs taken from people with a history of drug use has soared 72 percent in the past two years, rising from 599 in 2016 to 1,032 in 2018. In that time, three drug users donated a total of eight organs for transplant – including kidneys and lungs, heart, pancreas, liver and small bowel. And separate data from the Human Tissue Authority covering the same period recorded at least 19 instances where an unspecified malignancy or infection was passed on via the transplanted organ. Organs are always scanned for known infections such as HIV and hepatitis, but can sometimes carry other hidden diseases.
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Can I Donate My Organs If Ive Had Cancer
Many cancer survivors want to help other people by becoming organ donors. Its possible for many people whove had cancer to donate, but it varies by cancer type and medical condition.
Theres always an urgent need for donated organs. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing , the organization that facilitates every organ transplant in the United States, nearly 125,000 people are waiting for organs. Some organ donations, such as a kidney, may be done when a person is still living. Others are possible only if a person wishing to donate passes away under certain circumstances.
Should Threat Of Relapse Prevent A Transplant
Some activists point to the fact Murray wasted her opportunity with her first liver transplant as proof patients who relapse shouldnt get a second chance. A former drug addict has a difficult time getting onto a transplant list, period. Some organizations wont include anyone with a history of drug and alcohol use, especially if relapse is an issue.
The ethical considerations of any organ transplant make judgment calls difficult. For example, who decides what kind of substance use should keep someone off the list? Some hospitals allow patients who smoke or drink alcohol on the list but prohibit patients who use medical marijuana. Some believe the United States needs to standardize organ transplant guidelines and develop a list of medical criteria that governs who is put on the waiting list.
Even without standard guidelines, many hospitals are more open to offering transplants to recovering addicts. Moderns research into addiction and the psychological elements of the disease take away some of the moral stigma that governed past transplant decisions.
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Organs From Drug Overdose Victims Could Save The Lives Of Patients On Transplant Waiting List
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The widening tragedy that is the U.S. drug-overdose epidemic could have an improbable silver lining: for the 120,000 desperate Americans on the waiting list for a donated organ, the line could get a little shorter.
In 2000, only 149 organs from donors who suffered a fatal drug overdose were transplanted into patients waiting for a replacement kidney, heart, liver or lungs. In 2016, overdose victims donated 3,533 such organs for transplant.
For many transplant patients, the increased availability of organs from those who die of drug intoxication has translated into slightly improved survival rates at the five-year mark, according to new research.
Among all prospective organ donors, the youngest and healthiest have generally been those who become brain dead due to trauma falls, drownings, electrocution, vehicle crashes and violent injuries.
Patients who lose all brain function as a result of stroke, heart attack or brain hemorrhage also become organ donors. But they tend to be older, and their organs are typically in worse shape, often compromised by risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and worrisome cholesterol.
Rates of drug-overdose deaths have more than tripled in the United States since 2000, driven by rising addiction to opioids. That grim trend has brought about a 24-fold increase in transplants involving an organ harvested from an overdose victim.
Registering To Be A Donor
Organs and tissue from a donor will only be used when a donor or their family gives consent after the donor has died.
The Australian Organ Donor Register is the official national register for people 16 years of age or older to give their intention to be a donor. Recording your decision on the Register ensures authorised healthcare professionals anywhere in Australia can check your donation decision at any time. In the event of your death, information about your decision will be provided to your family.
Even if you have previously expressed an intention to donate organs and/or tissues , its very important that you record your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
You can register your donation decision by either:
- to register over the phone or ask for a registration form to be mailed to you:
- Visiting your local Medicare office and complete a registration form.
You can decide to donate specific organs or tissues, all simply select all organs and tissue. Health professionals will assess at the time of death what organs and tissue could be safely transplanted to someone else. Donation can involve:
- Organs kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, stomach, intestines and pancreas.
- Tissues heart valves and tissues, pancreas islets, bone and tendons, skin, and eye tissue.
For general enquiries about organ and tissue donation locally, phone DonateLife Victoria
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Organ Transplants And Addiction: Finding A Second Chance
Transplants involving those with a past of substance abuse has led to new opportunities but also new questions.
One of the tragic outcomes of the opioid overdose crisis is the availability of more organs for those waiting for life-saving transplants. Though a very sad consequence of this crisis, many younger people are dying, and their organs may be healthy enough to donate.
On the other side of the coin, drug use can lead to addicts needing transplants when organs begin to fail due to substance abuse. Heres a closer look at organ donation and addiction.
Drivers And Donors: How Can The Most Probable Victims Of Road Accidents Decrease The Organ Donation Gap
In India, about five lakh road accidents were reported in 2015, killing about 1.5 lakh people. Of the victims, 18-34 year-olds were the most affected. Often, such victims are declared brain-dead where the brain loses all its function from the resulting trauma due to the accident. Although their life hangs on a thin balance, these individuals can save others by donating their functional organs, like eyes, kidneys, heart, lungs and liver. However, do drivers in India know enough about organ donation to pledge their organs, should there be a catastrophe?
In a recent survey conducted among rickshaw and taxi drivers in Udupi district of Karnataka, researchers from Kasturba Medical College and Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal, found that nearly half the participants did not have satisfactory knowledge about the process of organ donation and the risks involved.
Statistics show only about one person among three million donated their organs in India. In Udupi, a study found that about three-fourths of road accidents led to death due to brain injury, making the victims potential organ donors. Then, why is the number of donors so less? The researchers of the current study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, wanted to understand why people do not become organ donors and what initiatives can be carried out to encourage organ donation.
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