The Drug Overdose Epidemic and Deceased-Donor Transplantation in the United States: A National Registry Study
Ann Intern Med. 2018 May 15;168(10):702-711. doi: 10.7326/M17-2451.
The epidemic of drug overdose deaths in the United States has led to an increase in organ donors.
To characterize donors who died of overdose and to analyze outcomes among transplant recipients.
Prospective observational cohort study.
Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, 1 January 2000 to 1 September 2017.
138 565 deceased donors; 337 934 transplant recipients at 297 transplant centers.
The primary exposure was donor mechanism of death (overdose-death donor [ODD], trauma-death donor [TDD], or medical-death donor [MDD]). Patient and graft survival and organ discard (organ recovered but not transplanted) were compared using propensity score-weighted standardized risk differences (sRDs).
A total of 7313 ODDs and 19 897 ODD transplants (10 347 kidneys, 5707 livers, 2471 hearts, and 1372 lungs) were identified. Overdose-death donors accounted for 1.1% of donors in 2000 and 13.4% in 2017. They were more likely to be white (85.1%), aged 21 to 40 years (66.3%), infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) (18.3%), and increased-infectious risk donors (IRDs) (56.4%). Standardized 5-year patient survival was similar for ODD organ recipients compared with TDD organ recipients (sRDs ranged from 3.1% lower to 3.9% higher survival) and MDD organ recipients (sRDs ranged from 2.1% to 5.2% higher survival). Standardized 5-year graft survival was similar between ODD and TDD grafts (minimal difference for kidneys and lungs, marginally lower [sRD, -3.2%] for livers, and marginally higher [sRD, 1.9%] for hearts). Kidney discard was higher for ODDs than TDDs (sRD, 5.2%) or MDDs (sRD, 1.5%); standardization for HCV and IRD status attenuated this difference.
Inability to distinguish between opioid and nonopioid overdoses.
In the United States, transplantation with ODD organs has increased dramatically, with noninferior outcomes in transplant recipients. Concerns about IRD behaviors and hepatitis C among donors lead to excess discard that should be minimized given the current organ shortage.