The spike in drug overdose deaths has led to an increase in organ donations.

Sadly, the number of opioid overdose deaths nationwide has doubled in the last decade. However, the number of those victims who have become organ donors has quadrupled.

“Very sick people are allowed to live because extraordinary generous people have said yes to organ donation,” said Susan Miller, Family Services Coordinator at Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.

According to Finger Lakes Donor Recovery there are over a 110,000 people nationwide waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and nearly 800 locally. For the first time in 25 years that number has begun to shrink.

Miller said more often than not family members who lost their loved ones from overdose will say yes to organ donation.

“These families aren’t saying my son died of an overdose, they’re saying my son was a hero he saved five lives,” said Miller.

Executive Director Rob Kochik said this year, 52 patients had donated organs –15 of which were people who died of an overdose. Compared to last year where they had 38 organ donors, ten being donors who died as a result of an overdose.

While the tragedy of the source of this gift is not lost on the community, some recipients are concerned of the risks that may come with the organ. Kochik says the organs they receive from the victims of overdose are not dangerous.

“Each organ donor is evaluated to see if their organ is a match for the patient,  with new testing that’s only been available within the last few year we are able to reduce any kind of window period for HIV and we now know that Hepatitis C can be treated,” said Kochik.

If you want to know more about donations or become a registered donor click here.