25 per cent of organs donated in B.C. came from fentanyl overdose deaths

In the first six weeks of 2017, B.C. Transplant says there were 20 organ donors in the province

B.C. Transplant says one-quarter of the organs transplanted in the first six weeks of this year were donated by a patient who died of a fentanyl overdose.

The agency that manages organ donations and transplants in the province recently began tracking the data after physicians there began to see more organs coming from patients who had died of a drug overdose.

The agency also says out of the 51 people in B.C. who donated at least one organ after their death between Jan. 1 and June 8, 25 had a positive toxicology test.

Policies in Canada require patients to provide informed consent before receiving a donated organ from an injection drug user.

Not all died of a drug overdose, nor did they all use opioids, but the spokeswoman for B.C. Transplant says the agency is definitely seeing an increase in organs from opioid-related deaths and is continuing to track and analyze the data.

The agency doesn’t have comparison data on fentanyl deaths and organ donors from previous years because it hadn’t started tracking it yet.

B.C. has been ground zero of the opioid epidemic in Canada, with 575 deaths from fentanyl alone in 2016 – five times the number of 2015 deaths.

Across the country, Canada saw an estimated 2,500 opioid-related deaths in 2016.

In B.C. there were 20 organ donors in the first six weeks of 2017, exactly twice the number in the first six weeks of 2016.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths in January and February went from 73 in 2016 to 139 in 2017.

The most current national data on organ donors is from 2015, when there were 652 deceased donors, as compared to those who donate an organ while they are still alive. That was up from 598 in 2014.

Half of that increase came in B.C.

Most people who die of a drug overdose end up brain dead with a fully functional circulation system, in much the same way as a car crash or drowning victim leaves behind many healthy organs.

RELATED: Battle to beat AIDS offers lessons in fighting opioid crisis

All organs are tested for diseases like HIV or hepatitis.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Rash of break-ins overnight in Langley

Five businesses hit in one hour

UPDATE: Fire at Port Coquitlam rail yard under control

Evacuation order lifted, residents told to remain inside

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

B.C. man accused of impersonating an officer eludes capture

Arrest warrant still stands for Bryce Scott Telford

Bird count scheduled for Langley area

Volunteers collect data that is shared with the Metro Vancouver regional authority

UPDATE: ‘Fairy Godmother’ needs help to make prom night special for Langley grads

Charity collects donated dresses, suits, and accessories for grads who can’t afford them

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

5 to start your day

Tsunami warning activated in B.C. overnight, fuel truck hits train in Port Coquitlam and more

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

Snowfall warnings for mountain passes

Lots of snow expected to fall today.

Protect your home and save: New sensor stops flooding in its tracks

BC-made system offers solution to damaging leaks from water tanks, dishwashers and more

Most Read