Thousands of organs discarded yearly due to hepatitis C


BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Right now, thousands of people in Alabama are on the transplant list, waiting for an organ. Some will wait for years, some don’t have that much time. Doctors say many will die before an organ becomes available.

What if they could be given a new heart or kidney within a few months, or even weeks of being put on the list?

Doctors say thousands of organs are being discarded every year because the donors have hepatitis C. It’s just one more sign of the impacts of the opioid crisis. There has been a 500 percent increase in the last five years in donors that have died from opioids. Many of them are young with healthy organs, but have often contracted hepatitis C from intravenous drug use. In fact, cases of hepatitis C nearly tripled from 2010 to 2015, and experts say the opioid crisis is to blame.

"These are good organs with a bad story. Meaning that they are usually organs from young people that work very well," said Dr. Devin Eckhoff, Director of Abdominal Transplantation at UAB and Medical Director of Alabama Organ Center. Continue reading

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