Donor Heart Recovery From Drug-Intoxicated Deaths Has Increased

Campaigns promoting organ donation in populations affected by drugs have contributed to increase

THURSDAY, Feb. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of donors from whom hearts were recovered for transplantation who died from drug intoxication increased from 1999 to 2016, according to a study published in the Feb. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Muthiah Vaduganathan, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to examine state-specific patterns in use of donor organs for adult heart transplantation recovered from individuals who had died from drug intoxication.

The researchers found that from 1999 to 2016, the age-standardized rate of death from drug intoxication increased from 6.8 to 20.8 per 100,000 persons. The percentage of U.S. adult donors from whom hearts were recovered for transplantation who died from drug intoxication increased from 1.5 percent in 1999 to 17.6 percent in 2017. Increases in the rates of drug intoxication-related deaths and organ recovery were seen in most states, with major increases in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest regions of the United States. The percentage of heart donors among the total number of persons who died from drug intoxication increased from 0.1 to 0.2 percent from 1999 to 2009 and then increased to 0.6 percent in 2016.

"Targeted campaigns that promote organ donation in populations affected by drug intoxication and changing perceptions related to the acceptability of such organs may have contributed to observed increases in the rates of organ donation and recovery," the authors write.

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