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Drug overdose deaths trigger rise in organ transplants, finds study

America is reeling under the skyrocketing drug overdose crisis involving both prescription and illicit opioids. The increasing number of fatal overdoses has suddenly led to a spike in instances of organ transplants, made possible by people succumbing to addiction. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in April 2018, the number of overdose-death donors rose from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 13.4 percent in 2017, helping address the country’s organ transplantation problem.

The study also suggested that between 2000 and 2017, several donated organs were not used though they could have been utilized to give a new lease of life to the needy. “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 author of the study Dr. Christine Durand, an assistant professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University. Overall, the study found a 24-fold rise in transplants involving overdose-death donors, from almost 150 in 2000 to over 3,530 in 2016.

Durand highlighted that accepting organs from overdose-death donors doesn’t involve any regulation. However, she maintained that there are regulations involving “high-risk” donors who may transit viruses through organ transplantation. According to the researchers, 56 percent of overdose-death donors were labeled as high-risk donors who could transmit infectious diseases. The stigma attached with the high-risk label mandated the donors to be tested for hepatitis as well as HIV, and special consent for the transplant recipient.

According to the federal Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network, an estimated 114,836 individuals in the U.S. require an organ transplant to live. But between January and March 2018, only 4,109 organ donors were available, signaling a huge gap between demand and supply. Durand said her study had brought hope to several hundreds of people waiting for an organ transplant, however, she feels it is important to remember those who made the transplants possible. “In a time of greatest tragedy, they made a powerful decision to save the lives of people waiting on a transplant,” she added.

Leading a drug-free life

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), millions of people struggle with chronic painful conditions each year, leading to a monumental surge in health care and rehabilitation costs and a significant decline in productivity. The need of the hour is to acknowledge the chronic pain problem nationwide and understand that prescription opioids, once considered to be wonder drugs, have actually become the main driving forces behind the fatal overdoses. The very opioid receptors in the brain that respond to pain signals also regulate emotional impulses, such as euphoric sensations, cravings to get high, and reward-seeking urges. Such a correlation increases one’s vulnerability to compulsive drug-seeking behaviors.

Human beings are not born with the intention to abuse drugs in their lives. But once they get addicted, their abilities to exhibit self-restrain can be largely impacted with extended use. Besides, the damage to multiple vital organs and body functions is huge. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during 2000-2016, more than 600,000 Americans died of deadly overdoses. For a long time now, the U.S. has been spending a large sum of money on campaigns against contraband drugs, which have engulfed the entire country.

Fortunately, drug addiction is a treatable condition. If you or your loved one is battling drug addiction or have any misconceptions associated with substance abuse that have prevented you from seeking treatment, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for credible information. Call at our helpline number (855) 441-4405 to know about world class residential drug rehab centers known to reverse the destructive effects of drug. You can also chat online with one of our representatives who will guide you to one of the best residential drug treatment centers in your vicinity.

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