Between 1999 and 2016, the number of overdose-induced deaths more than tripled in the United States. This impacted on organ transplants with a concomitant rise in the number of organs harvested from overdose victims. 17.6% of organs transplanted in the USA have since been sourced in this way. "This conveys an important message. It shows that people are now accepting organs arising from overdose-related deaths", says Mandeep Mehra, Medical Director of Brigham's Heart and Vascular Center. His team analysed data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, to arrive at the figure of 17.6%. According to their studies, on average 6.24 hearts per 1,000 overdose-related deaths are successfully harvested. "We must look for ways of overcoming this crisis and, at the same time, investigate new ways of increasing the availability of good donor organs.
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