Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths Boosts Number of Organs Available for Transplant

Emergency room hospital

The rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States has resulted in an increased number of organs available for transplant, according to a study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

These transplants are often just as successful and safe as those involving organs from trauma victims and people who died of natural causes, the researchers found.

“We were surprised to learn that almost all of the increased transplant activity in the United States within the last five years is a result of the drug overdose crisis,” study lead researcher Dr. Mandeep Mehra said in a news release. More than 110,000 Americans are on transplant waiting lists, HealthDay reports.

“In the unfortunate circumstances where opioid deaths happen, organ donation can extend life of many patients in need of transplant,” said study co-author Dr. Josef Stehlik. “Yet, these organs are often not considered suitable for organ donation.”

Risks for Relapse, Overdose and What You Can Do

Addiction is complex and the journey to recovery often involves setbacks and relapse. Rates of relapse are between 40 and 60 percent, very similar to rates of relapse with other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma or type I diabetes.1 Once your son or daughter has been drug-free for a period of time — whether the result of formal treatment or otherwise — should they relapse, they’re more susceptible to overdose for the simple reason that their tolerance isn’t what it once was. A dose they may have once used regularly can now be fatal.

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