An Increased Death Rate Due To Drug Overdoses Is Increasing Life Saving Donations

There has been an increase in the number of organ donations as a result of opioid addicts dying. In Louisiana, there has been a 40 percent increase in organ donors over the last two years. Louisiana Organ Procurement Association spokeswoman Kirsten Heintz says the opioid crisis is now impacting another health crisis. That of the need for life saving organs. She says that it all starts with the decision to donate, which might come from surviving family members after an overdose. "If they are... pronounced brain dead, they may have the potential to save others through organ donation."

There is a concern among some that getting an organ from an opioid addicted person, that the medicine would be transferred to the person obtaining the donation. Heintz says there are plenty of precautions in place to ensure the organs are drug-free. "They want to make sure those drugs are out of their system first before brain death is declared. Once an organ is recovered, the blood is flushed from the organ before it goes into the recipient."

There are nearly 2,100 recipients on the list who need a donation in Louisiana. Heintz says there aren’t enough organ donors to fill the need. If you want to become an organ donor, she says it would be good to discuss your wishes with your family. "Let the family know that there's an opportunity for their loved one to be a donor and have a conversation with them and let them know what they may be able to help with. Find out more about their loved one and see if this is something they would have wanted to do."

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  • I don't even know how to react to this. More people dying from drug overdoses = more people living because of organ donations. It kind of boggles my mind. We're living in such a weird and confusing time.
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