More patients are accepting infected organs to cut transplant wait: 4 things to know

Patient seeking organ transplants are accepting infected organs, effectively cutting their time on the transplant waitlist from years to just months or weeks, according to USA Today.

Here are four things to know:

1. Hospitals nationwide discarded almost 2,700 kidneys between 2005-14, according to a 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

2, However, some hospitals no longer discard organs donated by patients with hepatitis C. Thanks to antiviral medication, physicians can transplant the infected organs into recipients. Infected organ recipients take medication for eight to 12 weeks after the transplant to remove the virus from their blood.

3, For one Arizona patient, accepting an infected kidney cut his transplant wait from five weeks to two years.

4. Increasing rates of fatal drug overdoses, fueled by the opioid epidemic, are boosting the supply of available organs for donation. As many drug users are at high risk of developing hepatitis C, the process of using infected organs for transplants will help ensure fewer organs go to waste.

"We're seeing a collision of two public health crises come together," Alexandra Glazier, CEO at New England Donor Services, told USA Today. "The fact that there can be some life-saving legacy out of a pretty horrific public health crisis is a reality."

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