Opioid overdose donors: their impact on lung transplantation

The unfortunate epidemic of opioid overdose death donors (ODDs) over the last decade has prompted a New York group(4) to investigate the impact of this relatively recent surge in new donors on outcomes after lung transplantation.

The authors compared two successive periods: 2000 to 2007 (when only 2.1% of donated lungs were derived from opioid overdose donors) and 2010 to 2017 (when this proportion rose to 7.3% (a three-fold increase)). Donor/recipient demographics, outcomes and organ discard were analyzed with regards to ODDs since 2010.

Although ODDs were younger and more likely to have a history of smoking, hepatitis C or an abnormal bronchoscopy finding, the authors found no significant difference in overall survival between ODD and non-ODD groups.

While the increase in ODD utilization in lung transplantation has generally reflected the opioid epidemic, the authors believe there remains a significant pool of ODD pulmonary allografts with favorable characteristics that are discarded. These results suggest that donor lungs should not be discarded based solely on ODD status.


4. Phillips KG, et al, Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Lung Transplantation: Donor, Recipient and Discard Characteristics. Ann Thorac Surg. 2019 Jul 16. pii: S0003-4975(19)31026-4 (link to abstract)

Xvivo Insights PB-2019-10-13