WARNING: Doctors say lethal batch of heroin has penetrated Louisville; 28 overdoses in hours
ER doctors sent an urgent warning on a lethal batch of heroin in the city. They say it's extremely potent, and likely laced with fentanyl or carfentanyl -- an animal tranquilizer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local emergency rooms are warning the public that a lethal batch of heroin is sweeping through Louisville.
There has been at least one overdose death so far -- and on Wednesday, the public learned more about this drug from someone who has experienced heroin firsthand.
Melonie Kebsch knows all too well the struggle with heroin.
"I relapsed Aug. 11 and I've been clean since Aug. 12," she said.
She is days removed from her last overdose.
"I woke up in the hospital and they told me I almost died," she said.
She says addicts are thirsting for the powerful cocktail, which is new to Louisville's streets.
They're calling it "pallbearer."
"It's scary," Kebsch said. "It's the scariest thing ever...it's pretty much saying, 'Use this and we're going to be carrying you in that casket.'"
"This is not just regular heroin out there," warned Dr. Robert Couch, a Norton Hospital emergency physician. "This is something that has other opiods in it -- either fentanyl or carfentanyl. Whatever it is, it's very, very potent...it's going to kill people."
Dr. Couch said he'd never seen anything like it. Downtown hospitals treated 28 overdose patients Tuesday in a matter of hours. The coroner confirms one of those people died of a suspected heroin overdose.
It mirrors reports of similar overdoses in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia last week.
"It's crazy that we think this way," said Kebsch. "But we want it. We want to find out where it came from because if it's that good, then we want the best."
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell knows first-hand the tragic cost of heroin. His son died of a heroin overdose in 2014.
"Our kids our dying the streets, dying in hotel rooms," O'Connell said at the time.
The sudden surge in overdoses coincides with the national FedUp! movement. Rallies at Jefferson Park and all 50 states urge Congress to pass $1 billion in funding for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
"We need to be able to provide treatment for people as soon as they say they need it," said Emily Walden, the event organizer, who lost her son to a heroin overdose.
This event was like an addiction health fair, and it included resources for addicts, resources for users and resources for family members dealing with this opioid epidemic. But questions surround some of the solutions for the heroin problem. Many communities in the state have implemented needle exchange programs and the heroin reversal drugs can be obtained without prescription. Kebsch said while clean needle cut the fear of disease some addicts do think, "Iif I overdose, somebody's got narcan and they can bring me back."
The 27 year old from Louisville has overdosed 10 times in the last four years. She's currently in treatment and says now that she knows about the latest batch of heroin, she's more committed to sobriety than ever before.
"It's just completely not worth it -- not worth the high, or the risk that you're taking."
The coroner is awiting toxicology reports to confirm the person who overdosed died of heroin.
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