The weekend effect: Hospitals more likely to discard donor organs

A new study shows another potential devastating consequence of the weekend effect: Hospitals were more likely to discard organs procured during the weekend than kidneys obtained on other days. 

Research has shown that patients who are admitted to hospitals on Saturdays and Sundays are more likely to die within 30 days than patients with similar conditions who are hospitalized during the week--a phenomenon known as the weekend effect.

But the latest research, unveiled during the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney Week in San Diego, indicates that organs are also more likely to be discarded on weekends than on weekdays.

Lead researcher Sumit Mohan, M.D., assistant professor of medicine & epidemiology and director, transplant outcomes research at Columbia University Medical Center, and his colleagues examined data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients to identify and compare  all deceased donor kidneys procured on Friday to Saturday with those that were procured on other days of the week.

They found a slight decrease in the number of kidneys that would normally be made available for transplantation over the weekend. But more worrisome: Organs procured over the weekend were 20 percent more likely to be discarded than kidneys obtained on other days. Furthermore, the discarded organs were of higher quality than those thrown away during the rest of the week. 

Researchers also noted that organs obtained over the weekend were more likely to be transplanted at large transplant centers.

"The day of the week when a donor kidney becomes available appears to impact the likelihood of procurement and its subsequent utilization, if procured," Mohan said in a study announcement.

The reason may be because there are fewer available resources at smaller hospitals during the weekends, according to Mohan.  

Mohan told that a better understanding of factors that contribute to the discard of transplantable kidneys is necessary to better develop potential strategies and interventions to alleviate the risk.

To learn more:                       
- read the study announcement
- here's the piece from