Because of drug use, can Anne Heche’s organs still be donated?

Among all the questions from Anne Heche’s car crash last week (like is there a conspiracy? and did she try to get off the stretcher?) was one regarding her designation as an organ donor. First of all, signing up to donate your organs is a great and thoughtful thing for someone to think about in the event of his or her death.

“How can I do some good in the world even when I’m not here?”

“Can someone benefit from the body I leave behind?”

These are unselfish questions so we should all remember that about Ms. Heche. She made sure that one of her last wishes was to help others. Moving right along, the question that arose for me is this: Can someone who is apparently on drugs still donate their organs?

Well, the simple answer is yes. If doctors weren’t able to use her organs then she wouldn’t have been kept on life support for the handful of days after she was declared brain dead. As for which organs, that’s something I don’t know specifically but in a few articles (for example here and here), it’s stated that organs from a person who died of an overdose (or they had an addiction) were just about as functional in the recipient as organs from someone who passed away in a different way (head injury, etc).

So apparently the cocaine that was reportedly in Anne’s system didn’t disqualify her from being a donor. Had she suffered from something like cancer or HIV, though, she couldn’t be a donor. Well, that just about clears it up for me! I read that the doctors found recipients for the various organs from Anne. This kind of raises up another question to ponder. If you were in need of an organ, how bad would it have to be for you to get over the fact that the organ you’re getting is from someone who had a drug addiction? It doesn’t seem to make a difference, but I think it would be something I wrestled with if I were in that situation.

Thanks for dropping in…

-Out of the Wilderness

Published by Ben Wilder

Since 2005, I've called Nashville home. I'm the leader of the pack, which includes a 13-year-old beagle and an 11-year-old blue heeler mix. My days include writing, video editing, and other fun activities. Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it!

3 thoughts on “Because of drug use, can Anne Heche’s organs still be donated?

  1. Hello Ben,
    Great website/writing/blog, and your children’s books look adorable!

    Given the topic of this post, (and especially as a Christian,) I recommend that you listen to videos and interviews with Dr. Paul A. Byrne (M.D.) (about “brain death” and the organ transplant industry),
    interviewed here by Dr. Dan Margolin:

    Everyone should listen to this, to be knowledgable and understand both for yourself and your loved ones before making decisions like organ donation check box for driver’s license (say NO!)

    A few takeaways, Dr. Byrne explains “brain death” is not true death [it’s a legislative fiction created in 1968 to make organ collection possible]; in the case of a brain injury, “say no, no, no” to “apnea test”; in the case of driver’s license, say NO to organ donation (AND keep in your wallet signed statement/2 witness signatures that you say NO to organ donation, and NO to “apnea test” etc). Dr. Byrne explains exactly why in this interview (and many others/youtube videos/website in his decades of advocacy). Given the questions you pose in this blog post, this interview (linked above) will be very enlightening.

    An analogy to help understand the issue regarding healing for brain injuries: Everyone accepts that for a broken bone it can take months for the bone to heal (with the support of a cast/sling/crutches), but despite the incredibly vast and powerful functions the brain performs, typically brain-injured patients in hospitals often are only given two days to heal (!!!) (an injured brain can take much longer to heal than a broken bone! – can take months for an injured brain to heal) AND they often aren’t given the SUPPORT for brain healing they need. To the contrary. Instead of being given time and support to heal, brain-injured people in the hospital often are subjected to an “apnea test” which injures the brain even MORE gravely, and usually the “apnea test” is a self-fulfilling death sentence. Families are (very quickly – within 48 hours of hospitalization for brain injury) pushed to organ donation (and often families aren’t able to successfully fight it even after seeking emergency help from courts).

    As Dr. Paul A. Byrne describes in this interview (and his many Youtube videos/interview/writing for decades) organs cannot be (viably) harvested if a person is deceased, only if they are living. (Let that sink in … organs can only be harvested from a living person, which is why the “brain death” fiction was created in 1968 in order to allow organ donation from a brain-injured living person.) Some tissues (NOT organs) can be harvested from a deceased person, but NOT organs. Listen to the interview with Dr. Paul A. Byrne.

    Whatever happened that day resulting in Anne Heche driving through residential neighborhoods at 90+mph, endangering so many other lives, destroying a woman’s home, was a tragedy. Thank God no one else was physically injured and the woman whose home was destroyed and her dogs and pet tortoise all were able to get out of the house uninjured – thank God! Still, a tragedy for the woman whose home and belongings/memories/work was destroyed. A devastating tragedy for Anne Heche and her family and friends, even if it resulted from her own actions/decisions.

    Seeing the overhead news footage along with news reporters’ commentary when the stretcher was pulled away from the burning home/car wreck, with a person (Anne Heche) completely covered in white sheets/blankets, black buckled straps at BOTH ends (instead of an opening for a person’s face, to be able to breathe). . . and then to see her (shockingly!) suddenly sit up and struggle to get free of the covering over her whole body/face, was bizarre, like a jump-scare in a film! The news reporters commenting were shocked. (You described all of this in your other recent blog posts, along with the video link.)

    ***Why weren’t there EMT rescue personnel next to the stretcher; holding oxygen over her face?*** Just Googled this and learned that OXYGEN (mask, nose tube, throat tube) is the “mainstay of treatment” for smoke inhalation and airway burns. (All the Google photos I am seeing of fire fighters show them placing oxygen masks over the faces of people rescued from fires.)

    Wouldn’t it seem logical to (at least) leave an opening for the person’s face/mouth to BREATHE? Unlike in Anne Heche’s case, where her entire face and body were covered w white sheet/blanket strapped down at her ankles and strapped down around where her head was covered, with no opening for her to even be able to breathe, much less have an oxygen mask. How was she supposed to breathe with her face covered in sheet/blankets belted down over her head — (especially at a time when smoke inhalation/airway burns victims apparently usually would have an oxygen mask over their face while being wheeled to ambulance)?

    News outlets reported that she was then given some kind of (sedative/pain killer?) – so that she wouldn’t keep struggling/fighting to get free (disoriented/severely injured). News also reported she was put in a “medically induced coma.” See for example,

    If they (1) subdue (by injecting something) into an injured person (clearly not “brain dead” on the stretcher after the horrific car crash into house; instead sitting up and appearing to attempt to break free); (2) then at the hospital put them in an “medically-induced coma” … at what point did she end up with the “brain dead” pronouncement? Scary stuff. Tragic. Thank God more people weren’t injured or killed as a result of her reckless speeding in quiet residential streets that day.

    Listen to Dr. Margolin’s interview with Dr. Paul A. Byrne in order to understand and be able to make informed decisions about these critical issues.


  2. This is an interesting question. I didn’t know how substance use or addiction could affect a person’s organs. I suppose some more than others…like eyes may not be affected at all. Thanks for letting us know.

    Liked by 1 person

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