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

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Divers encounter giant, weird-looking fish in Barkley Sound

Rendezvous Dive Adventures charter sees six-foot creature normally found in tropical water

Longtime owners sell popular convenience store in Ucluelet

“I’ve been here 24 years. I grew up next door. I’ll turn 55 this year. It’s time for a change.”

Long Beach Open golf tournament this weekend

72 players from all over Vancouver Island hit the links.

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read