Canadian organ donors have gotten fatter and sicker throughout 21st century, new study shows

NATIONAL POST | Sharon Kirkley
With organs in chronically scarce supply, doctors are increasingly turning to 'innovative measures' to expand the pool of donors, researchers have written in a new study. Wayne Cuddington / Postmedia News File

New Canadian research is highlighting what experts in transplant medicine say is their new reality: organ donors are older, heavier and sicker than they once were, a phenomenon that’s contributing to suboptimal organs for transplant.

Montreal researchers who studied 1,040 brain-dead organ donors over 13 years found an “overall worsening” in their health status, with recent donors more likely to have a higher body mass index, a smoking history, coronary artery disease and abnormal blood fats than donors a decade ago.

It’s not clear what this means for the proportion of organs recovered — and discarded — the researchers say, or how well organs procured from bodies of “somewhat deteriorated” quality perform after transplant.

But others in the field say the finding reflects the growing use of “more marginal” organs, especially when the alternative may be no transplant, or even death. Continue reading
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