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Organ donations reach record numbers in 2017, partly due to opiate epidemic

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WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, OH (WCMH) – Organ donations reached record numbers in 2017 and Lifeline of Ohio said its partly due to the opiate epidemic.

People who die from an overdose have the potential to donate and it’s saving lives. The organization said 25% of their donors were from overdoses.

In 2016, 93 people donated their organs through Lifeline of Ohio. Last year in 2017, there were 124 donors, a 33% increase.

Tracy Johnson was one of those 124 donors last year. Her daughters, Brandy Havens and Kelly Suttles, tell us their mom was a giving person who always wanted to help others.

“When she was alive she was always helping people and after she passed away, she’s still helping people,” said Havens.

Their mother’s organ donation saved two people’s lives.

“It makes me feel estatic because knowing that there’s still a part of her out there,” said Suttles

Havens said their mom struggled with addiction and suffered from other health problems.

“People always think, ‘Oh, I won’t be able to donate I’ve done this and I’ve done that. I’m too sick,’ and actually amazingly she was able to,” she said. “She was able to donate her liver, donate her kidney.”

Suttles said their mom overdosed back in October. She spent a week in the hospital, before she passed away.

“I have it imprinted in my head of my mom laying there every single day in that hospital, swelled up, holding her hand…just knowing in the back of my head that it’s not going to be the same anymore,” said Havens. “I don’t want anyone else to go through that.”

But, their mom’s generosity and gift of life to people they never knew brings these sisters comfort.

“She’s my hero,” said Havens. “She’s always been my hero and now she’s even someone I look more up to even now.”

Lifeline of Ohio said despite this year’s record number of organ donations, the need for donors is still great. Right now, nearly 114,000 men, women and children are waiting for a live-saving transplant. 615 of those people are in Central Ohio.

The organization said they’re also often asked if drugs will be passed from the organ to the recipient. The answer is no. Lifeline of Ohio said regardless of how someone passes away, each organ is always tested to make sure a healthy, viable organ is delivered to the transplant center.

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