This June 1, 2018 file photo shows syringes of the opioid painkiller fentanyl in an inpatient pharmacy. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

B.C. organ donors who tested positive for fentanyl up 26%

Donors who tested positive for the drug increased by nearly a quarter in 2018

The number of organ donors who tested positive for fentanyl in 2018 increased by 26 per cent from the previous year, according to data provided to Black Press Media.

BC Transplant data shows that 29 out of 122 deceased donors, or 24 per cent, tested positive for fentanyl when they arrived at the hospital in 2018.

In 2017, 23 out of 121 donors, or 19 per cent, had the deadly drug in their system at the time of hospital admission.

Preliminary data from the B.C. Coroners Service also shows fentanyl was detected in three percentage points more of suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018.

READ MORE: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

According to its 2018 summary report, fentanyl was detected in 85 per cent of the 1,489 total suspected illicit drug overdose deaths last year.

These increases came in the same year that a record 502 lives were saved in B.C. by the 122 deceased organ donors.

“Very clearly there has been an increase in the number of people who are dying from opioid overdoses,” Sean Keenan, BC Transplant’s provincial medical director of donation services, told Black Press Media on Tuesday.

He said another part of the reason fentanyl-related donations went up could come down to testing.

“Fentanyl testing is not part of the routine toxicology screens that have been used in the past,” Keenan said. “The increase in fentanyl may be more due to just the fact that we’re testing more for it now.”

He said testing in emergency departments still varies from hospital to hospital, but it has become more common compared to the early years of the crisis.

READ MORE: Opioid overdoses still killing four people a day in B.C.

Keenan went on to note culture shift as a factor.

He said donation physicians and organ donation coordinators have been working over the last few years to promote donation as part of normal end-of-life discussions in intensive care units, so there is greater awareness.

“It’s obviously a major problem, fentanyl and overdoses. It’s really tragic, the number of people who are dying,” he said. “We all want to see the fentanyl crisis over, but in the meantime, we do see more patients who are coming in as overdoses that are becoming organ donors.”

According to the coroners service, the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018 equates to about four deaths per day, making it more than 4.5 times more common than deaths from car crashes.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Pride crosswalk too expensive to install says municipal council

Mayor and council have asked staff to investigate whether a bench with a plaque supporting the LGBTQ+ community is feasible

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Jim Pattison takeover offer ‘non-binding,’ Canfor cautions investors

B.C. billionaire already big shareholder in forest industry

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read