More lives will be saved with new heart transplant research

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The opioid epidemic has led to an increase in overdose deaths.

The opioid crisis really started just a few years ago, but I guess it’s an example of a silver lining in a very dark cloud.

Dr. Howard Eisen, Penn State Health Cardiology

According to the American Heart Association, those deaths have increased the number of hearts available for potential organ donation.

“Donor hearts from people who died of drug overdoses are perfectly acceptable and work very well as transplanted hearts. It means that now these donors that we might’ve in the past have turned down, we can accept, so it increases the donor numbers,” said Dr. Eisen.

This will shorten the time spent on the national waitlist for a heart transplant.

“The waitlist is excruciating. People are dying as we speak because there’s not enough organs. That’s a good guideline change,” said Kent Carper, organ donor Recipient.

There will also be a broader acceptance of hearts from donors who have had Hepatitis-C.

“We have new medicines, we have new strategies for taking care of people. Before transplant keeping them alive and after transplant keeping them alive, so I think all of this is part of the continued advancement in science and medicine,” said Dr. Eisen.

This means the world to some who have had or are in need of a transplant.

It’s life saving. It’s called the gift of life and that’s exactly what it is.

Kent Carper, organ donor recipient

As medicine continues to change, so does the hope for longer, healthier lives in the future. If you or a loved one would like to sign up to become an organ donor, you can attend the West Virginia Organ Donor Day this Sunday, August 1st.

Follow Katie Park on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with her reporting for 13 News!

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