Organ donations increase at large motorcycle rallies due to crashes, study finds


Organ donations and transplants are increasing at large motorcycle rallies in the United States due to crashes, according to a new study, signaling the need for increased safety measures.

Researchers analyzed more than 10,000 organ donations and 35,000 transplants from 2005 to 2021. In areas near where motorcycle rallies were held, there were 21% more organ donors and 26% more transplant recipients per day during rounds than in the four weeks before and after. .

In neighboring areas with no gathering of motorcycles on these same dates, there were 11% fewer organ donors and 10% fewer transplant recipients.

“Clearly, preventable deaths do occur during these events, and the primary focus should be on improving public safety and road safety during these events,” said Dr David Cron, first study author and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. .

These big events may also “have downstream associations with organ donation and transplantation,” the study says.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, tracked organ donations and transplants around seven of the largest motorcycle rallies across the United States: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, the Daytona Bike Week in Florida, Laconia Motorcycle Week in New Hampshire, Myrtle Beach Bike Week and Atlantic Beach Bikefest in South Carolina, the Republic of Texas Biker Rally and Bikes, Blues & BBQ in Arkansas. Each of these events attracts between 200,000 and 500,000 participants each year.

Large motorcycle gatherings are often accompanied by increased trauma volumes at local hospitals, the study found. Overall, bikers are 29 times more likely to die in an accident per mile traveled than people in passenger vehicles, researchers note, and bikers who don’t wear helmets are three times more likely than motorcyclists. hard hats to become organ donors.

Isolated head trauma is a leading cause of brain death, which is one of the most common catalysts for organ donation, Cron said.

“This topic has come up in the context of motorcycles and helmets…because over the last few decades helmet laws have been reduced, and what has been well documented is that there are more fatal accidents when drivers are not wearing their helmets,” he said.

Awareness of organ donation was an important aspect for the researchers.

“Education and awareness goes a long way in educating the public about organ donation, whether it’s signing up to make your wishes known – so that if something tragic should happen, that you have the potential to be a deceased organ donor – or even just improve public knowledge about living donation,” Cron said.

For everyone involved in the transplant process, including critical care teams and organ procurement organizations, “it is important to recognize these events as times of increased organ donor availability so that they can all be ready for these events and optimize their processes in any way. can be to maximize the ability to turn these projects into hopefully a gift for life,” he said.

Only 1% of people who die in the United States each year are medically eligible to become organ donors, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations said in a statement Tuesday.

“We appreciate the researcher’s attention to this issue and the need for greater public safety and organ donation awareness among communities that host and attend motorcycle rally events,” said the band.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held each August, is the largest and most popular in the country.

“Unlike travelers who pick a destination and stay there for an entire week, Rally participants come here to experience the freedom of rides through some of the most scenic landscapes in the country. In doing so, they spend more time on our highways , which puts them at a higher risk of an accident,” said Daniel Ainslie, manager of the town of Sturgis, which helps organize the rally.

The South Dakota Bureau of Highway Safety offers tips for safer riding, such as reviewing riding maps before attending, knowing how to handle a bike in varying weather and terrain conditions, and practicing safe driving, such as checking blind spots and using appropriate signage.

According to the study, 42% of all motorcycle accidents in 2019 were alcohol-related. To reduce the risk of drunk driving during the rally, Sturgis offers bus rides from local motels and rally campgrounds.

“Having the buses gives Rally participants the ability to spend time in downtown Sturgis without worrying about putting themselves or their passengers at risk when they return to where they are staying,” Ainslie said. .


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