Registrations for 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, Michigan Medicine researchers found.
Both measures exceeded their predicted volume by more than 50 percent — and both were associated with increasing alcohol sales.
“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.
JAMA Network Open
Association of COVID-19 With NewWaiting List Registrations and Liver Transplantation for Alcoholic Hepatitis in the United States
Article Publication Date
Dr. Anderson reported receiving grants from the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Valbuena reported receiving grants from the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation Clinician Scholars Program and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Brown reported receiving grants from the Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award administered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr, Englesbe reported receiving grants from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and salary support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Dr. Mellinger reported receiving grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Career Development Award.