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Opioid crisis giving others a second chance at life through organ donation

The opioid crisis on a daily basis destroys lives. But, the overdoses are actually giving others a second chance at life. (WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - The opioid crisis on a daily basis destroys lives. But, the overdoses are actually giving others a second chance at life.

WSYX/WTTE first introduced you to Kelly Kocher, a Zanesville mother whose story touched the lives of those who saw it.

Kocher videotaped the last moments of her son's life after he had overdosed and died in the hospital.

"I think people needed to see that," she said. "They need to see reality. They need to see if you continue to do drugs, this is the end result."

The end result of her son's life gave a second chance at living for three other people, as Kocher donated his organs.

The skyrocketing number of opioid deaths is now contributing to a record number of organ donations.

In Central Ohio and southeastern Ohio, organ donation increased by 33 percent, and 25 percent of those organ donors died of a drug overdose.

"Many times people think that someone who died from a drug overdose doesn't have the opportunity to become an organ donor and that's actually not true," said Andrew Mullins, the director of partner services for Lifeline of Ohio.

That's the organization that coordinates organ and tissue donations. Mullins says every organ donated is examined thoroughly, and that an overdose patient's addiction is not passed onto the organ recipient.

"They are tested to make sure the organs are functioning very well, we match blood type and also test for communicable diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis b, Hep c, " Mullins said.

He says donating helps a family who has lost an loved one to drug addiction. He says it can help them rewrite the end of their life.

"There were three different people my son got to save with his overdose. Something good had to come from this," Kocher said.

For more information on Organ Donation: www.lifelineofohio.org.

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