Rise in deadly overdoses yield more life-saving organ, tissue donations
Cincinnati mother: Organ donation brings hope to daughter’s death
Updated: 6:50 PM EST Feb 19, 2018
Reported by Alexis Rogers
The tragic state of addiction in the tristate has had an unexpected impact.
Anna Gosney watched her daughter, Jennifer Holcombe, struggle with addiction for years.
“She needed help,” Gosney said. “I definitely did not know she was into heroin or anything like that. But then I got the phone call.”
Gosney said Holcombe overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl. The deadly combination led to an explosion of 60 overdoses in two days in Cincinnati in August of 2016.
Gosney said Holcombe’s dealer tried to revive her but failed. He left Holcombe and called her daughter, who then called the police. Days later, Gosney’s family was left with a life-changing decision.
“We all talked it over and decided that we all wanted to — for her to be an organ donor,” Gosney said.
Endings like Holcombe’s are leading to new beginnings for others.
Organ and tissue donations are up in greater Cincinnati, in part because of the uptick in fatal drug overdoses.
“In 2017, Life Center recovered organs from 69 individuals. About a third of those were the result of drug overdoses,” Life Center’s Andrea O’Malley said.
In 2017, the U.S. exceeded 10,000 donors for the first time.
“More often, it tends to be kidneys and the liver. Then it also can be tissues as well,” O’Malley said.
Those who receive organs and tissues from someone who overdoses won’t know it … unless the donor family chooses to share with them. Gosney said she’s committed to living her and her daughter’s truth.
“You know, I made sure all the people I knew I told how my daughter died. Sometimes it was embarrassing,” Gosney said. “But I made up my mind that people were going to know it wasn’t just people that were living on the street or something like that. It affects everybody. I am so glad she was able to help other people — that her life wasn’t in vain.”
3,000 people are currently waiting for transplants in Ohio. Gosney said because of her daughter’s life-saving gift, she’s thinking about becoming a donor. She also hopes to meet those who now hold pieces of her daughter.