Transplants for alcohol-related liver inflammation surge during pandemic

Oct. 28, 2021

Michigan Medicine researchers have found that the national organ transplant waiting list related to alcoholic hepatitis as well as the number of deceased donor liver transplants for the inflammatory liver condition rose significantly during the pandemic.

Both measures exceeded their predicted volumes by more than 50% — and both were associated with increasing alcohol sales, according to a University of Michigan press release.

“While we cannot confirm causality, this study provides evidence for an alarming increase in alcoholic hepatitis associated with known increases in alcohol misuse during COVID-19,” said Maia S. Anderson, M.D., a general surgery resident at Michigan Medicine and the first author of the study. “And it highlights the need for public health interventions around excessive alcohol consumption.”

Alcoholic hepatitis is typically caused by heavy alcohol consumption on a regular basis and can lead to permanent scar tissue in the liver and other long-term damage, like liver failure, if left untreated.

University of Michigan release

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