The Opioid Crisis is sweeping across the country; rapidly turning into an epidemic (plague). More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids--nearly double in a decade, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While very sad, the rapid rise in the number of drug overdose deaths has contributed to an increase in Kidney Transplants (along with other Organ Transplants). In fact, "there's a 24-fold rise in Organ Transplants from drug overdose donors," reported CNN. The following outlines key information patients should know and discuss with their Healthcare Teams.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that the number of Overdose-Death Donors has gone from only 1.1% of all donors in 2000 to 13.4% in 2017. Although the study suggested that the sharp rise in Organ Donations in general, and Kidney Donations specifically, could help patients receive lifesaving Transplants, many kidneys and other organs from Overdose Donors were not used to save lives when they could have been.
In more detail, the researchers found that a whopping 56% of Overdose Donors were labeled as increased infectious risk donors and their kidneys discarded. The riskier donors require specialized testing for HIV and Hepatitis as well as specialized consent for the Kidney Transplant Recipient. Although there is a stigma associated with the 'increased infectious risk' label, "In reality, the 'increased risk' of HIV or Hepatitis in these donors is very low," noted Lead Researcher - Dr. Christine Durand (Assistant Professor of Medicine And Oncology at Johns Hopkins University).
Ultimately, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should know that there is now a cure for Hepatitis C, which further minimizes the risk of accepting a Kidney Transplant with the 'increased infectious risk' label. Discuss the matter with your Healthcare Team, and if you determine that you are willing to take the risk of using an Overdose Donor Kidney, you may potentially improve the odds of getting a call sooner. "Patients and their Transplant Teams have to weigh the small risk of an infection like Hepatitis C -- for which we now have a cure -- against the risk of dying on the Wait List," said Dr. Durand.
Still, do not just wait for the call. Actively let others know about your need for a Living Kidney Donor as well. Share your story far-and-wide. If you need help getting started or improving your existing effort, then click here and let the KidneyBuzz.com Team help.
Recommended Reading: U.S. Transplant Medication Policy Is Leading To Failed Kidney Transplants
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