Need for liver transplants due to heavy drinking soared during pandemic, study finds

They found the number of people who got a liver transplant or were put on a waiting list due to alcoholic hepatitis was 50% higher than what was forecast based on pre-pandemic trends.

With alcoholic hepatitis, the liver stops processing alcohol and instead creates highly toxic chemicals that trigger inflammation. The inflammation can kill off healthy liver cells, creating irreversible damage to the liver that may force the patient to get a liver transplant to survive.

Alcoholic hepatitis is a condition that often develops after years of heavy drinking, but it can also develop after a short period of excess. Scientists still don’t know why some people develop this condition and others don’t.

For this study, University of Michigan researchers compared the actual number of new people put on the US organ transplant list from March 2020 to January 2021 with the projected numbers that were based on pre-pandemic data.

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