A New Category of Donors; America’s Overdose Victims

According to statistics calculated in 2014, in just over a year, the number of deaths of donors caused by prescription opioid abuse rose from 16,000 to a staggering 19,000. Seventy-eight Americans are said to die each day due to opioid abuse, which makes up more than 60 percent of all overdose deaths.

According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the number of donors who died because of overdoses rose a shocking 270 percent from 2006 to 2015. This amount of increase in overdose deaths showcases just how deeply rooted America’s addiction problem is, and just how severe it is becoming each day.

Out of these donors around 120 million Americans had consented to donate organs in their lifetime. The rest, however, died without consenting to organ donation, and their families took to arranging this on their behalf. For most of these families, they had been aware of this death for a very long time because deaths by overdose are anything but sudden or unexpected. These families decided to donate so that these organs could become a means of salvation for other people. Some families received comfort in knowing that something positive had come out of losing their loved ones, and some took to explaining that they believed a part of their loved one could live on even after death through donating organs.

Overdose victims represent a seemingly newer category of donors and are not placed among car crash victims or accidental deaths etc. There is a strange form of taboo around using organs from drug addiction victims because there is a risk of Hepatitis etc. being transferred to the organ recipient.

Many experts and medical care providers have explained that this risk is very low and can be eliminated through testing etc. so people should not pass on organs by overdose victims on the basis of any prejudices or myths such as these. Considering how very recently organ donations from one HIV-positive person to another were considered possible, this too should be looked at with an open mind. Despite all this, most people are not convinced of the safety of this type of organ donation.

With 20 people on the organ waiting list dying every day due to the unavailability of organs, it seems imperative that this class of donors be treated the same as any, expect with a few more precautionary measures. Despite America’s growing drug problem, it seems as if the only positive thing to come out of it is the fact that the ever increasing overdose deaths can result in a lot of organs that can be donated to people who are constantly waiting on an ever-growing waiting list. If anything, people who are suffering from drug addiction or are undergoing therapy, etc. should be made aware of options such as that of donating organs in case of overdose deaths. Families of these individuals should also be convinced to donate the organs of their loved ones to save the lives of many others.

This study, however, shows us a vital aspect of modern day American society. The fact that the number of deaths by overdose is increasing daily and that too at a very high rate, shows us that America truly has a massive drug problem. Considering that the maximum number of these overdose victims are children, college students or young employees also shows us how stress, anxiety and social pressure may come to bear down on these people and result in the abusing of drugs such as opioids. Regulations, precautionary measures, and awareness campaigns to sensitize the masses to the problem of drug addiction must be focused upon by governmental authorities.

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