May 2nd, 2016
The tragic rise in drug-related deaths in the US has resulted in an increase in the availability of organs for lifesaving transplants.
According to government data, the proportion of organ donations related to fatal overdoses has increased from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 9.34 percent in 2014. The number of fatal overdoses—most of which involve combinations of different drugs—has increased 137 percent in the same time period, with the number of opioid-related fatalities more than tripling.
Most people who need a transplant sadly stand a slim chance of receiving one. The list of people in need is more than 77,000 long; only a fraction of that number of donors die per year.
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of hepatitis and HIV transmissions after four people tested positive for the diseases after receiving transplants in 2007. However, doctors generally agree that the risk of infection is low and far outweighed by the urgency and likely benefits of getting a new organ.