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Charles Grugan Left a Legacy of Selflessness through Organ Donation

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The heroin epidemic has brought tragedy to thousands of families, but some have found comfort in a trend quietly picking up momentum.

The Grugan family of Pennsylvania is among those who’ve donated the organs of a loved one who died from a drug overdose to help save other lives.

Eileen Grugan said her son, Charles, had checked off the organ donor box years before his death from a heroin overdose at age 33.

Charles Grugan died from a heroin overdose at age 33. His family donated his organs and three lives were saved.

“He was checking it off because he believed it was the right thing to do. Not that he would ever be called on to do that. He had big dreams,” Eileen said.

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But an addiction to painkillers derailed those dreams and swept Charles into the nation’s opioid epidemic. He had his first pill in high school, and by age 30, he had moved on to heroin. Three years later, he overdosed in the family living room.

“I yelled to him, ‘Charles?’ and he didn’t answer, and I ran in and grabbed him and I said, ‘Charles!’ And he was gone. The brain damage was very, very severe and he was not going to be coming back,” his mother said.

Charles’ parents and sisters honored his wish to donate his organs.

“It is the thing that helped us get through this grief that we thought we were never, ever, going to be able to be whole again,” said Eileen.

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