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

Saskia and Darrel kick off spring tour with Chilliwack concert

Stories of the Great Plains delivered in Gaelic, French and more

RCMP officer reaching out to youth about intimate partner violence

Chilliwack officer and friends of Maple Batalia team up to encourage bystanders to speak up

Murder charge formally dropped against woman accused in downtown Chilliwack killing

Stay of proceedings ordered for Victoria Purcell; Kirkland Russell to be sentenced for manslaughter

ACES grows the love of gardening with annual seed exchange

The event will be returning to Harrison Mills Community Hall on March 1

PHOTOS: Spirit of the People Powwow

Family Day weekend powwow was a colourful, vivid celebration of Indigenous culture

VIDEO: North Delta elementary school closed following stabbing that left cop, woman in serious condition

An off-duty police officer and a woman were injured outside of the school Wednesday afternoon

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

VIDEO: Woman, off-duty cop in serious condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

5 to start your day

Two people are in critical condition after stabbing, searchers recover body of missing snowshoer and more

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Most Read