CLEVELAND CO., N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A Cleveland County man who overdosed and died from opioid addiction saved another life by donating his organs and the recipient of his heart wrote a letter to the man's mother.
"My life is forever changed," Jonathan Ledbetter's mother Jane Ledbetter read from a note sent from the organ recipient.
The heart recipient, for now, is annonymous but is giving thanks to the Ledbetter Family.
"I'm a 44-year old male who received the precious gift from your loved one," Jane read.
Jane's son, Jonathan, was 19 years old when he died from an overdose on Nov. 10, 2017.
"No one's immune to it," Jane said. "That's what I want everyone to know. No one's immune to it, we all know somebody."
Jane will be speaking at a Cleveland County Opioid Forum on Thursday, June 13. The event is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. People will hear personal stories of addiction and be offered resources to fight the disease.
"You know, I can hear Jonathan say, 'Mom, this is what you need to do to help other people,' so, yes, this is therapy for me," Jane said.
Cleveland County said it's seeing an increase in synthetic opioid overdoses but a decrease in traditional opioid overdoses. A possible attribution to the decrease is because first responders are starting to carry naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose.
The county adds, emergency room visits for opioid issues, however, are on the rise.
"I think they realize it's not going anywhere anytime soon," Cleveland County's Drug-Free Community Coordinator Jamie Todd said.
"The purpose of the forum is to raise awareness about the opioid problem in our community," Todd said. "We really want to make sure that the community knows about the resources that are available in our community. We really want to try to break stigma as far as people coming forward that may have opioid problems or have family members with opioid problems."