Is It Time to Allow Organ Donations from Drug Overdose Deaths?
131,000 people in the United States wait for an organ donation every single day. 10% of them will get one – unless we allow organ donations from drug deaths.
131,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ donation right now, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Many of them have to wait at least 3 years for a transplant. 22 of them die waiting. Every. Single. Day.
There should be a way to keep that from happening. According to The New York Times, there is – if we open up donations from drug overdose deaths.
For decades, the CDC has restricted organ and tissue donations from drug overdose donors due to fear of transmitted disease. Those donors are considered high risk – along with anyone who’s been incarcerated (over 2.4 million people in the US, according to the World Prison Brief), prostitutes (at least 1 million people in the US, according to Business Insider), and gay men, as The Times explains: “For many years, patients with H.I.V. and hepatitis C were not even considered potential donors and their organs were thrown out.” With only 1 in 3,000 people dying in a way that allows their organs to be transplanted, according to Organ Donor.gov, the restriction against drug donors limits an already tiny pool. And the need continues to grow:
Despite increasingly sophisticated medical screening processes and updates from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that attitude is still upheld by many physicians. As Dr. Robert Veatch of Georgetown University told The Times, “‘Putting a virus into a person is repulsive to many clinicians.’”
Yet drug users tend to be healthier than most other donors, according to The Times. “Drug users tend to be younger and healthier than other donors,” Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing, told them. “The risk of actual infection transmission with current screening strategies is numerically very, very small.” 249 people contracted a disease from their transplant in the last 9 years, according to OPTN. 71 of them died. Compared to the total number of transplant recipients in that time (171,388), that’s a 0.01% risk.
Additionally, the potential risk of receiving an infections disease from an organ donor is far smaller than the guaranteed discomfort of life while waiting for the transplant, as Veatch explained to The Times: “We know now that the mortality rate of being on the waiting list for several years is higher than that of getting an organ with an infection that is treatable.”
He’s not kidding. 65% of patients waiting for an organ transplant are over the age of 50:
That means patients often have health issues in addition to the transplant, and can become very ill while waiting. Compare that reality to the fact that hepatitis C can be treated, even cured, and HIV can be managed, and a transplant from a drug donor looks like a pretty good idea. Especially since that transplant can improve a patient’s quality of life for 10 years or more.
Drug users are also the most plentiful source of donors we have right now, as The Times explains: “Transplants were initially associated with deaths from car accidents, which is why organ donors are noted on driver’s licenses. But overdoses (47,000 in 2014) have surpassed car crashes (32,000 in 2014) as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States… Drug users are now the fastest-growing category of donor.”
Also, scientifically speaking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with receiving an organ donation from a drug user. As The Times points out “dying of an overdose, which usually occurs when oxygen cannot reach the brain, does not affect kidney function or other organs. The drugs and blood are flushed from the organs when they are removed from the body.”
While there are still legitimate concerns about potential infection, the need far outweighs the risk. The best potential longterm option for transplant patients might be replacement organs 3D-printed from their own cells. But that technology has only just begun to emerge, and still needs lots of testing before it becomes a viable option. Until then, relaxing restrictions from drug overdose deaths seems like our best solution.
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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