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DEATH ABUNDANCE: The opioid epidemic has created a rise in organ donations


Opioids

(NaturalNews) The tragic increase in overdose deaths associated with the nation's opioid epidemic is providing an unexpected benefit: a spike in the number of organs available for transplant.

The percentage of organs coming from donors who have overdosed has been rising steadily over the past few years. Nationwide, the number has tripled from 4 to 12 percent since 2010, and in New England the number has jumped from 4 to 26 percent in the same period - in New England, more than 1 in 4 organ donations now come from overdoses.

Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of the New England Organ Bank, told NPR:

"It's remarkable and it's also tragic. We see this tragedy of the opioid epidemic as having an unexpected life-saving legacy."

The explanation for the sharp increase in donations in New England isn't entirely clear. Although overdose rates are high in that region, they are not the highest in the country.

From NPR:

"Glazier says the 12 transplant centers in that region may be more aggressive about finding a match for patients with failing hearts, livers or kidneys. And she says New Englanders tend to be pragmatic about end-of-life decisions.

"Some hospitals in Massachusetts report that they are performing a record number of transplants. At Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, the number of patients receiving a liver transplant has roughly doubled in the past three to four years."


Fear of dying while waiting for an organ transplant outweighs fear of receiving one from a drug user

Although cases of HIV and hepatitis B or C are more common among IV drug users, hospitals are required to test the organs prior to transplant and to inform patients if there is a risk of contracting these diseases.

The fear of becoming infected with one of these viruses may have lessened in recent years, since there effective treatments for them are now available.

The fact that many patients face a danger of dying while awaiting a transplant is likely to outweigh the fear of contracting a disease from one that becomes available.

In fact, organs donated by drug users may be healthier overall - many overdose victims are young and not necessarily addicts. Some may even be first time users who unfortunately injected a deadly amount.

But even with the increase in organs coming from overdose cases, demand is still greater than supply, and the lists of patients awaiting donations continue growing longer.

There may be more potential organs available from overdose victims than are actually harvested, due to the fact that many opioid addicts don't carry identification and are not in touch with family members who could grant consent.

At any rate, it's often a difficult subject for family members to contemplate - imagine having to make the choice of removing a son or daughter's body from life support so that their organs can be collected for donation, even if their brain waves show no activity.

Big Pharma's role in the opioid epidemic

Opioid overdoses are still on the rise in the United States and have become a full-scale epidemic. The CDC estimates that 78 people die every day in the US from an opioid overdose.

Many of those overdoses were from prescription opioids, which means Big Pharma is killing tens of thousands of people each year. Prescriptions for powerful opioid drugs like OxyContin have skyrocketed over the past couple of decades - since 1999, opioid prescriptions have quadrupled, and so have overdose deaths resulting from them.

Recent studies have shown that prescription opioids can be a "gateway drug" leading to heroin use, and so, Big Pharma is not only responsible for the spike in overdoses from prescription opioids, but those from illicit heroin as well.

It's time to acknowledge who the real drug pushers are and put them behind bars.

Sources:

NPR.org

CDC.gov

DrugAbuse.gov

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