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State sees increase in drug overdose death related organ donations

Spitalier Philippe

State officials say an increase in drug overdose deaths have lead to more organ donations.

The state’s organ donation agency, Gift of Life, says the increase in opioid deaths is likely the cause.

Tim Makinen is with Gift of Life Michigan. He said the past three years have seen a marked increase in organ donations from drug users.

“It’s been anywhere from 14 - 17% of our organ donors the past few years. Previously it was in the single digits and if you go back ten years to 2007 it was less than 2% of our organ donors.”

Mackinen said organs from drug users are flushed for any remaining toxins but are otherwise healthy.

“People think how could someone who was a drug user possibly save lives? But in fact, in what is a very tragic circumstance that is one positive that they can still save lives.”

He says the state has also seen an increase of overall organ donations.

But he says there is still a lot of need, over 3,200 people are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.