A new study finds the rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States has contributed to an increase in organ transplants, CNN reports.
Overdose death donors accounted for 1.1 percent of donors in 2000 and 13.4 percent in 2017, representing a 24-fold rise, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study also found many organs from overdose-death donors were not used to save lives when they could have been.
“The current epidemic of deaths from overdose is a tragedy. It would also be tragic to continue to underutilize life-saving transplants from donors,” said lead researcher Dr. Christine Durand of Johns Hopkins University. “We have an obligation to optimize the use of all organs donated. The donors, families and patients waiting deserve our best effort to use every gift of life we can.”
Heroin & the Opioid Epidemic: From Understanding to Action
Heroin and other opioids are ravaging communities across America. Deaths from heroin increased 328% between 2010 and 2015, and drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now seeing a rise as well.