1 in 4 organ donors in Maryland died from a drug overdose in 2016

WMAR | Mallory Sofastaii

BALTIMORE, Md. - The heroin epidemic grips our nation and Maryland has been hit especially hard. There was a 58 percent jump in the number of heroin-related deaths in the first nine months of 2016. According to the third quarter report released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 918 people died January through September.

Everyone involved wishes this problem would go away, especially the friends and families who've lost loved ones, law enforcement, and health professionals. But the nearly 4,000 people in Maryland, who have been waiting for a life-saving organ, are being helped by the epidemic.

Luis Burks, 22, died from a heroin overdose July 16, 2016. Lori Blankenship wasn't able to save her son, but Burks was able to save other families from the grief she's now experiencing.

“Three people, and as many people that maybe donating his lungs to science is going to help,” Blankenship said.

Burks' two kidneys and liver were all donated to people on the transplant organ list. They finally got the call they had been waiting for, but it came at the expense of Blankenship’s son. Continue reading