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

Canada wins gold in bobsleigh

Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz tied for first in two-man event at 2018 Winter Olympics

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Residents should keep air intakes clear of snow

Silver Star Fire Department is encouraging residens to keep their air intakes clear after snowfall

Provincial program offers assistance to agricultural producers

AgriStability Enhancement Program benefits agricultural producers who saw an income decline in 2017

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

Street Sounds: Rolling with the Stones

The Stones’ On Air is a blast from the past in every sense

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

Update: Highway 97C reopened following multi-vehicle incident

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

Brakemen pulling out all the stops for 2018

Kettle Valley Brakemen planning some surprises

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

DRAWL searches for Okanagan Valley accent

UBC study wants to hear from Okanagan residents

Most Read