picture of Getty / Futurism
Big motorcycle rallies may indeed be as dangerous as they look – but a new study suggests that one motorcyclist’s loss could be another’s gain.
The joint analysis by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital found that between 2005 and 2021, organ donations increased an average of 21 percent per day during these rallies — and even more surprisingly, a Harvard press release notes, organ recipients increased by 26 percent in the same period.
Looking at records of more than 10,000 organ donors and over 35,000 transplant recipients over that 16-year period, the researchers found that on average, on rally days, both organ donors and recipients increased significantly in the regions surrounding the rallies. If one takes into account the four weeks before and after these rallies, this scope increased.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, these findings reinforce the dangers of motorcycling in general, and rallying in particular, while offering a kind of macabre silver lining for those in need of organ transplants. In fact, the finding may even lead to additional resources being allocated to facilitate successful organ donation at future rallies.
“It is important that transplant communities in locations where these events take place are aware of the potential for increased organ donation during these time periods,” said David Cron, a Harvard Medical School clinical associate and mass general, who was the study’s lead author the release. “Organ donation is often referred to as the gift of life and we should make sure we don’t squander it and turn each of these tragic deaths into an opportunity to potentially save other lives.”
While these results appear to indicate a positive trend in organ donation, the press release notes that despite the spikes during the rallies, “the increase in available organs has not been enough to alleviate the critical shortage of donor organs that the nation faces, either.” Only for a short time.”
While the researchers looked for other, independent factors that might influence these seemingly consistent trends, they couldn’t determine whether the people whose deaths led to organ donation died in bicycle or car accidents.
Still, it paints a pretty bleak picture for the safety of those attending events like South Dakota’s infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or Daytona, Florida’s Bike Week, which last about ten days and each draw half a million visitors.
“The spikes in organ donation and transplantation that we found in our analysis are disturbing, if not entirely surprising, because they signal a systemic failure to prevent preventable deaths, which is a tragedy,” Cron said in the press release. “There is a clear need for better security protocols for such events.”
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