Opiate overdose victim, organ donor, saves life of woman in addiction recovery

CLEVELAND |  Brie Zeltner
Karen Goodwin, 46, Goodwin enjoys quiet days on her front porch in the bucolic setting of rural Deerfield. Adam Shay was 21 when he died of a opioid overdose in his hometown of Mentor. Goodwin, who was herself in recovery from a substance abuse disorder, received a kidney and pancreas from Adam when he died on Jan. 8, 2014. (Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer)
CLEVELAND, Ohio--On a frigid January day in 2014, Adam Shay lay in the Neurointensive care unit of the Cleveland Clinic, the rhythmic hiss of a mechanical ventilator doing the work his brain could no longer tell his lungs to do.

Two days before, the burly 21-year-old former high school football player had overdosed on heroin in his Mentor apartment, been found by his fiancee and a friend who performed CPR until paramedics arrived, and then been taken to the hospital, unconscious. Days of subsequent tests confirmed that Shay would not wake up again.

The young man's relapse came after a year of sobriety, a steady job delivering pizzas at Papa John's and an engagement to his high school sweetheart. It ended a three-year struggle with substance use disorder for the 2011 Mentor High graduate.

About a five-minute walk away on the 10th floor of an adjacent Clinic building, 42-year-old Karen Goodwin held out little hope of surviving the month. A decade of cocaine and heroin use, repeated suicide attempts, and neglect of her Type 1 diabetes beginning at age 18, had caught up with her.

She needed a new kidney and pancreas or she would soon die. Continue reading
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