Heart Transplants From Drug-Intoxicated Donors Have Increased

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There was an increase in the use of drug-intoxicated donors from 2% in 2005 to 13% in 2015.
There was an increase in the use of drug-intoxicated donors from 2% in 2005 to 13% in 2015.

HealthDay News — Heart transplants using drug-intoxicated donors have significantly increased, but their use does not seem to adversely impact post-transplant survival, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Mickey S. Ising, M.D., from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, and colleagues used data from the United Network of Organ Sharing thoracic transplant and deceased donor databases to identify patients undergoing heart transplantation between 2005 and 2015. To assess annual trends in donor death mechanisms and the impact on post-transplant survival, recipients were propensity-matched in a 1-to-2 ratio (drug-intoxicated-to-non-drug-intoxicated). Over the study period, 19,384 donor hearts were used for transplant.

The researchers found that there was an increase in the use of drug-intoxicated donors from 2 percent in 2005 to 13 percent in 2015. There was a simultaneous decrease in donors with deaths from blunt injury (40 to 30 percent) and intracranial hemorrhage (29 to 25 percent). At one, three, and five years, post-transplant survival of drug-intoxicated donor hearts (90, 82, and 76 percent, respectively) was similar to that of non-drug-intoxicated donor hearts.

"Heart transplants using drug-intoxicated donors have significantly increased; however, they have not adversely affected post-transplant survival," the authors write. "Hearts from drug-intoxicated donors should be carefully evaluated and considered for transplant."

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