New surge in organ donations linked to drug overdoses - KCTV5

New surge in organ donations linked to drug overdoses

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The percentage of donors who died of a drug overdose is up by nearly 3,000 percent. (KCTV5) The percentage of donors who died of a drug overdose is up by nearly 3,000 percent. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Deaths from drug overdoses, namely heroin, are skyrocketing in the United States.

But as health officials try to raise awareness for the issue, it is having an unintended benefit in the surge in organ donation.

The number of organ donors has doubled since the mid-90s, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

The percentage of donors who died of a drug overdose is up by nearly 3,000 percent.

Tim Schmitt, director of transplant at the University of Kansas Hospital, says he’s seen that trend right in the metro.

“They are considered higher risk organs because of the drug overdose and the risk of other transmissible diseases,” Schmitt said. “But all of our organ donors are screened for HIV, Hepatitis C and other transmissible diseases, so they are essentially very good organs.”

Schmitt said he doesn’t believe anything has changed in that time, just that the supply of organs has dwindled and demand has grown.

“There is more people on the waiting list now than there was 20 years ago and fewer donors for those patients,” Schmitt said. “So as we get more desperate need for patients who need organs, we broaden our criteria for use of those organs."

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