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Increase in Opioid Overdoses Leads to Rise in Organ Donations


The increase in fatal opioid overdoses has led to a rise in organ donations, according to CNN.

The United Network for Organ sharing, which manages the nation’s organ transplant network, says early data indicates a record number of deceased organ donors in 2017, for the fifth year in a row. There were more than 10,000 deceased organ donors last year—a 3 percent increase from 2016. More than 1,300 of those donors died from drug overdoses.

“About 40 percent of the increase (in the past five years) tracks back to the drug intoxication issue,” said Dr. David Klassen, the network’s Chief Medical Officer. In the past five years, the number of donors who died of drug overdoses increased 144 percent, while the number of deceased organ donors overall rose 24 percent.

Klassen said people who died of overdoses are usually good candidates for organ donation. “They tend to be younger and tend not to have the burdens of diseases associated with aging,” he said. He added that while the drugs may cause people to stop breathing or their hearts to stop, they don’t necessarily harm the organs.

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