BOSTON, Massachusetts -- The opioid crisis has spawned an unexpected benefit - a boom in organ donations.
Tufts University Hospital has set a new record for heart transplants in New England.
Tufts normally does 20 transplants a year, but has already done 43.
Now, they're on track to perform 60 or more, triple it's normal number.
Better screening methods for Hepatitis, HIV and other diseases have also made it possible to accept otherwise healthy hearts which might have been rejected before.
"We usually talk with the recipient about the potential risks involved. There may be some risk there. May be small. But there's a good risk you're going to die on the list waiting if you don't take this," says Dr. David DeNofrio of Tufts Medical Center.
Tufts officials say about a third of donor hearts this year have come from overdose victims.
Leonardo Cruz has waited a long time to hear a new heart.
As he put a stethoscope to his chest, he exclaimed, "That's amazing!"
"It's not going slow. It's just going perfect," he added.
Cruz is thankful for that gift, which will hold a genetic condition called Danon disease at bay.
The new heart he received last month saved his life, and helped him appreciate life even more.
"Oh man, I have energy. I have warmness in my body. I feel just like something's touched me from like the heavens and just like, you're a brand new guy," says Cruz.
"You are a brand new person now," he added.
Opioid crisis' unexpected effect - rise in donor organs
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