Bitter Harvest: Deaths From Drug Scourge Puts More Organs for Transplant in Play

More than 790 people who died from drug overdoses this year have donated organs, representing about 12% of all donations, the New York Times reports. That’s more than double the 340 who donated in 2010, which represented 4% of the total that year.

It also represents a shift in practice, because drug users have historically been considered a risk for transplant because they are more likely to infected with HIV or hepatitis C. “But at a time of a severe organ shortage, the volume of organs available from overdose deaths has led transplant centers to try to use them instead of throwing them away,” the newspaper reports. “With rigorous screening, officials say, the risk of transplanting an infected organ is small. Moreover, they say, hepatitis C can be treated if not cured and HIV made manageable. Either is usually preferable to death.”

Source: New York Times