Families of overdose victims increasingly choosing to donate organs

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The families of overdose victims are choosing to donate their loved ones' organs in an effort to turn tragedy into triumph.

More than three years ago, Tristan Hackman admitted to her family that she tried heroin with her friends. It was all down hill from there.

"One day she was here and I noticed, 'why is she in the bathroom so long?' She came out and she was very lethargic-- just very-- just unrecognizable," said Tristin's mother Tammy Hackman.

That was more than three years ago.

"She said it grabs you and it doesn't let go," said Hackman.

Tristin's last day was in part spent with her son. An hour after the family left for the pool, Tristan's roommate found her unconscious on the floor.

"I always hate to say it-- kind of waited for that phone call," said Hackman.

Tristin had overdosed, and despite doctors' best efforts, passed away. Her family donated her organs.

"It was an important day in our lives because we knew she was going to live on," said Hackman.

Hackman's daughter is now part of a more positive and growing statistic. Indiana Donor Network says last year, 23 percent of the state's donors were a result of drug intoxication. That number is up significantly from prior years.

"It's a very sad situation but what's fortunate is that for those who do not make it to the hospital, their families can have something good come out of something so tragic," said Kellie Hanner, president of the Indiana Donor Network.

It's a trend being seen nationwide as well. Medical journals indicate there's been a 24-fold rise in recent years. The number of overdose victims becoming donors increased 17 percent between 2000-2017. Right now, thousands of people remain on the national wait list, hoping for that life-saving call that a perfectly matched organ is ready.

"it gives a little light at the end of the tunnel-- it gives hope," said Hanner.

Hackman says she's proud her daughter was able to become a hero to so five people.

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