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Your Voice Ohio is a collaborative effort to produce more relevant, powerful journalism based on the needs and ambitions of Ohioans and Ohio communities. Your Voice Ohio is an initiative of WYSO and more than 30 news organizations across Ohio.

Organ Transplant Rate Increases With High Overdose Deaths

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Paulo Marrucho
/
Flickr Creative Commons

The number of transplants using organs from people who fatally overdosed on drugs is rising in central Ohio and the nation.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the nonprofit group Lifeline Ohio had a record number of donors and recipients in 2017 and a 37 percent increase in the number of organs transplanted. Lifeline is the organ-donation organization for 37 Ohio counties and two counties in West Virginia.

Lifeline's Andrew Mullins says higher transplant rates are tied to the state's drug epidemic. A quarter of Lifeline's organ donors died from overdoses last year, a 12 percent increase from 2016.

Ohio had the nation's second-highest drug-death rate in 2016, with 4,329 fatal overdoses.

Nationally, the number of donations after fatal overdoses has more than doubled the past three years.