Excessive drinking during the pandemic has led to an increase in the demand for liver transplants in Colorado and across the country, according to health experts. At the Transplant Center of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s in Denver, surgeons typically perform around 20 liver transplants annually. However, this year they expect that number to double due to the rise in overall demand. Interestingly, doctors are witnessing a shift in the age demographic of those suffering from liver disease. While alcoholic liver disease was previously more common among older individuals, there is now a significant increase in younger patients in their 20s and 30s, particularly since the pandemic began.
The isolation and stress caused by the pandemic have exacerbated drinking habits, leading to an uptick in liver diseases. Many individuals started their “happy hour” earlier due to working from home, and the consequences of this increased alcohol consumption may go unnoticed until they become seriously ill. In Colorado alone, approximately 200 liver transplants take place each year, but the demand for organs still exceeds supply. However, younger patients tend to have better outcomes from transplants compared to older patients, as their overall health is typically better.
These findings highlight the significant impact of excessive drinking during the pandemic on liver health. With the rise in liver diseases among younger individuals, it is crucial to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol abuse and provide support for those struggling with alcohol-related issues. Additionally, efforts to address the shortage of available organs for transplant should be prioritized to ensure that those in need can receive life-saving treatment.