Report: Record Drug Overdoses Leading To More Organ Donors

Amber Randall | Civil Rights Reporter

The recent spike in drug overdoses has also led to a rise in more organ donors, according to the country’s organ transplant network.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) revealed that dead organ donors reached a peak in 2017 for the fifth year in a row, early data shows.

Deceased organ donors increased by three percent in 2017, with approximately 10,000 more than in 2016. About 13 percent of those deceased organ donors were caused by drug overdoses, the network added.

“About 40% of the increase (in the past five years) tracks back to the drug intoxication issue,” said Dr. David Klassen, a chief medical officer with UNOS.

Klassen also believes those drug related deaths could be attributed to the opioid crisis, but UNOS does not have the data to properly show that.

“The opioid epidemic is clearly not something anyone expected. It’s clearly a tragic situation. But there is a little bit of a silver lining,” he said.

The opioid crisis has gotten worse over the past few years in America with 63,000 people losing their lives due to drug overdoses in 2016, according to the Center for Disease Control. State governments and the federal government have recently stepped up to try and crack down on the crisis. President Donald Trump declared a public emergency in October 2017, and the Pennsylvania governor said there was a statewide disaster occurring in his state.

There have also been other changes to donor policy that have contributed to more organ donors, such as the allowance of those with a higher risk of getting HIV, Hepatitis A and B.

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