It’s hard to fathom any goodness coming from the opioid crisis and the family tragedies it causes every day. But it does, in the form of an increase in organs available to people who need new hearts, livers, kidneys, and other organs.
By their ages only, many of those dying of overdoses would be considered in the prime of life. Their organs have years of vitality left, and can give the thousands of Americans on organ wait lists the chance for new lives.
We specialize in kidney transplantation. In the United States, about 20,000 kidney transplants are performed each year, too slow a pace for the 95,000 Americans waiting for new kidneys. Getting a donor kidney is a yearslong wait, and thousands succumb to kidney failure each year before a potential match becomes available.
Given the huge shortage of donors, it is bewildering and disheartening when an individual who needs a kidney declines one from a donor who died of an overdose.