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

Boundary District Arts Council folds amid financial questions

The last board took over in November and could not find receipts for $8,000 in spending

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Residents push Grand Forks council to support with flood buyouts

Staff estimate a $6.6 million difference between pre and post-flood value for Grand Forks buyouts

MP warns of scam after catching Facebook Messenger imposter account

Wayne Stetski issues warning about an imposter messenger account that is using his profile photo

Grand Forks mulls in-kind options to support flood buyout residents

$6.6 million difference between pre and post-flood value for Grand Forks buyouts

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Motor vehicle incident in Sparwood results in death of dump truck driver

Authorities did not specify what caused the vehicle to go off the road.

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Most Read