Organ donations offer hope and healing amid tragedy of overdose

PHILLY VOICE | Tracey Romero

When Charles Grugan Jr. died of a heroin overdose in October 2011, the decision to donate his organs was made by his family: clockwise from top left, sisters Jennifer Grugan Whitehouse and Carolyn Grugan Noll, mother Eileen Grugan and father Charles Grugan. They posed for a photo at the Grugans' Wayne, Chester County, home where Charles had lived.
After her son Charles became addicted to heroin, Eileen Grugan was always fearful of getting that phone call, the one telling her that he had overdosed on the street or in a car somewhere.

“We were in so much pain. He wanted so bad to have a regular life and be happy, but the disease never leaves you alone,” she said. “Addiction is a long and lonely disease. When someone finds out that your son is an addict, they avoid you because they don’t know what to say.”

Charles was first introduced to Percocet at a party when he was a senior in high school. He wasn’t a drinker so he was looking for another way to get a buzz, his mom recalled.

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“We talked to our kids about the dangers of drinking because alcohol addiction runs in our family, but we never thought to discuss pain pills,” said Grugan, who lives in Wayne, Chester County. Continue reading