Study finds more organs available for donation and transplant after major motorcycle rallies in the U.S.

In news that's not at all surprising, but actually pretty disturbing to see presented so clearly, a recent retrospective cross-sectional study found that after major motorcycle rallies in the United States, more organs become available for donation and transplant. Zaina Hamza, writing for MedPage Today, explains:

Compared with the 4 weeks before and after rallies, there was an estimated 21% more organ donors per day during the rallies (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.21, 95% CI 1.09-1.35, P=0.001), as well as 26% more transplant recipients per day (IRR 1.26, 95% CI 1.12-1.42, P<0.001), reported Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues.

"This amounts to approximately 1 additional donor or 6 additional transplant recipients in these regions for every 2 major motorcycle rallies," they wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine.

"Because the timing of these rallies is plausibly unrelated to demand for organs and because we found no such effect for non-motor vehicle-related donor deaths, our findings are likely due to an increase in motorcycle use in areas where large rallies are held," Jena and team noted.

Over 9 days — the mean duration of a motorcycle rally — the net effect of motorcycle rallies resulted in 14% more organ donors and 19% more transplant recipients per day during rally dates versus non-rally dates (IRR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01-1.30, P=0.04).

"During motorcycle rally weeks in distant regions not containing motorcycle rallies, there was no increase in the number of organ donations or transplants, suggesting that our observed main effect was associated with the rallies rather than other temporal factors such as vacation travel," the authors wrote.

Read more about the study's methodology and findings here. The bottom line is that there is a high fatality rate accompanying motorcycle accidents—and it's even higher for riders who don't wear helmets. It seems like a given that folks running these major rallies should increase safety measures—what are they waiting for?