Bittersweet outcome: Opioid epidemic leads to more organ transplants here and across the country


After the horror of watching their 26-year-old son, Patrick McKallip, battle opioid addiction for six years before he finally died May 24, 2016 of an overdose, Michelle and Anthony Donatelli found some solace 10 months later.

The day he died at Allegheny General Hospital, they decided to donate his organs. Later, they sent letters to the recipients of his kidney, liver and heart, hoping they would hear back from them.

The first to reply was a man in his 60s who received Mr. McKallip’s heart, saving his life. The Donatellis, from New Kensington, went to visit him in his Pittsburgh area home in March.

“He tells us every day [he exercises] he says, ‘Come on Patrick, let’s go for a walk,’ ” recalled Mr. Donatelli, who became Mr. McKallip’s stepfather when Mr. McKallip was 7.

“The heartache continues. It’s like an open wound. It never closes,” Mr. Donatelli said of losing his son. “But after that [because of the organ donation] you realize he gave the ultimate gift: Life.” Continue reading

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