Opioid Epidemic Overdoses Have Increased Organ Donations

Opioid Epidemic Overdoses Have Increased Organ Donations

Opioid Epidemic Overdoses Have Increased Organ Donations in the USA. Hospitals around the country are reporting record breaking numbers of transplants. It appears that the opiate epidemic is presenting to be a life-saving solution as tragic as it is.

Hospitals as required to test organs for diseases but potential donees still fear the possibilities of getting HIV, or Hepatitis B or C.  However, the biggest risk these patients face is not receiving a donor before dying. Sadly the current opioid epidemic as resulted in many overdose deaths of younger first-time users whose organs are otherwise in better condition to transplant.

According to Dr. Klassen Chief Medical Officer at the United Network Organ Sharing (UNOS) drug overdoses have increased by over 2,000 percent since UNOS started recording the number from 1994 to 2015.

Are Drug User Organs Suitable for Use

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a transplant of organs from IV drug users is “high risk” due to the risk of HIV and Hepatitis B or C infections.
  • Dr. Klassen from UNOS has been quoted as saying the organs of the first and second time drug users have presented to be in better condition than that of the general population donor. Which he determines to make the risk of infection low.

Should Doctors tell Patients the Donor was a Drug User?

One question that has come up amongst surgeons is, “should I tell my patient that the donor was a drug user?”  Doctors have different views regarding the pros and cons of revealing this information.

  1. Some doctors have shared that revealing this information about the donor is a violation of the donor’s privacy
  2. Other doctors believe full disclosure to the patient is part of obtaining patient consent for the procedure.

If you or a loved one were the patient would you want to know? Let us know by commenting below!

If it were me I would like to be informed that the donor was a user/addict.  People in need of a donor should not be deemed so needy that pertinent information that could affect his/her future should be withheld from them.

The Public Health Service organization in its attempt to protect the public keeps an ongoing list of high-risk situations and diseases regarding organ transplants.

High-Risk Situations and Diseases on the list are:

  1. Hepatitis B and C
  2. HIV
  3. people who have had sex for money
  4. history of incarceration
  5. people who have been on dialysis

Even though the availability of donors has increased due to the opioid epidemic the number of people in need of an organ has also increased.  The United Network for Organ Sharing reports that so far there has not been a serious problem with patients turning down an organ due to the donor being a drug user.

The United Network for Organ Sharing reports that so far there has not been a serious problem with patients turning down an organ due to the donor being a drug user.

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Resources: 

United Network for Organ Sharing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Lydia Brown

Lydia Brown, MS, MAC, CSAC, CADAC Editor ATN, Home Business Owner Advocate for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment CARF Surveyor

28 thoughts on “Opioid Epidemic Overdoses Have Increased Organ Donations

    • April 8, 2017 at 11:07 pm
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      Hey Kristen, yes like they say there is light at the end of the tunnel but we still have a long way to go.

      Reply
  • April 6, 2017 at 11:19 pm
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    This is a thought provoking post and makes me think of the adoption issue. Do potential adoptive parents have the right to know the history of the biological parents? Similar, don’t you think?

    Reply
    • April 8, 2017 at 11:09 pm
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      Yes Angela I see the similarities especially the concerns. I have a friend that adopted twice and she said medical conditions were revealed to her more so than the how extreme the psychological issues were. She felt somewhat tricked and betrayed by the agency. Thank you for your comment

      Reply
  • April 5, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    I had no idea opioids were so prevalent. Any organ donation is going to have a sad story behind it. At least there is the comfort of knowing it can save others.

    Reply
    • April 8, 2017 at 11:10 pm
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      Donna that is exactly how I feel. It is a blessing that help can come out of tragedy.

      Reply
    • April 8, 2017 at 11:11 pm
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      Hey Edward the statistics were startling to me. Definitely peaked my curiosity about the subject. As always happy to have had you stop by.

      Reply
  • April 4, 2017 at 2:16 am
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    What a mess. But Trump has addressed mandatory treatment vs incarceration and hopefully this,will help.
    I am not sure, but it seems they will not harvest organs if deceased us HIV positve, hep c positive or other transferred blood diseases.
    Well, idk anymore, but they used to test the deceased for infectious blood diseases before harvesting.
    But who knows, they harvest organs from aborted babies….seems immorality has overwhelmed medical ethics in many ways.
    Paula recently posted…Childhood GiftMy Profile

    Reply
    • April 8, 2017 at 11:12 pm
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      Yes Paula you are right as mention in the post the CDC keeps those types of disease on the list of medical conditions that exclude people from becoming donors.

      Reply
  • April 3, 2017 at 12:50 am
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    Lydia,
    Don’t people have to give their consent before their organ is donated. So if they die of a drug overdose, who has the authority to offer their organ to another human?
    It is good to hear that many of their organs are not unhealthy, even if they have taken drugs, especially for first time users.
    Very interesting article.
    Warmly,
    Dr. Erica

    Reply
    • April 3, 2017 at 2:22 am
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      Hi Dr. Erica, yes definitely these are people that have registered to be donors. Some by the time they have become addicted to drugs have forgotten they have registered and most likely would not take the time to unregister. Same protocol just people living an unfortunate lifestyle.

      Reply
    • April 2, 2017 at 11:22 pm
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      Donna thank you for your comment. This situation is out of control it takes so long for people and governance to admit and address the problem in some affluent communities. The problem has existed for a very long time however better late than never for help to arrive.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2017 at 7:13 am
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    So interesting and right up my alley. It’s amazing how you have to give detailed thought and think, to find out such things. I think most people would assume these type of issues would have been addressed in the prescreening process.

    Reply
  • March 27, 2017 at 3:28 pm
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    That’s a really good question. I totally believe we take on other people’s energy, I’ve read about people who’ve woken up with possessing new knowledge/personality traits after receiving an organ. So incredible. I don’t think I’d mind knowing, donation is a selfless act regardless of the person who donated.

    Reply
    • March 27, 2017 at 4:47 pm
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      Hi Cynthia thank you for visiting. I love your comment it is a selfless act regardless indeed.

      Reply
    • March 27, 2017 at 4:48 pm
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      Julie thank you for your comment. Throughout history tragedy has brought forth amazing acts of kindness. I guess this is how we cope and survice the madness.

      Reply
  • March 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm
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    This subject is so sad but true. I definitely would want to know all about the organ my love one would be receiving.

    Reply
  • March 27, 2017 at 9:41 am
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    Wow! That’s incredible. The question of whether a person should know if the donar was a user? I think they should know

    Reply
    • March 27, 2017 at 5:07 pm
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      Hello Shauna thanks for stopping by and for answering the question

      Reply

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