Thursday, June 8, 2017

Organ transplants surge in B.C. because of fentanyl-overdose deaths

B.C.’s overdose epidemic is behind a significant increase in the number of organ transplant donors. Of the 59 donor organs (from 20 donors) used in transplants in the first six weeks of this year, a quarter were from people who died of an overdose. That compares to 37 organs from 10 donors transplanted in the same time period of 2016.

Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs in B.C.
Experts started to see the trend six months ago when overdoses surged to record highs. Deaths from drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., far surpassing motor vehicle crashes. While officials at B.C. Transplant have been loath to draw conclusions, experts say fentanyl is a “distinct and significant” factor in more than 25% of cases.
St. Paul’s, one of three hospitals where kidneys are transplanted in B.C. estimates a third of those donors died of overdoses.
Organs from donors who have died as a result of an overdose aren’t treated differently. While organ recipients are cautioned that risks may still occur even after screening, the majority of recipients accept the risks, especially if they are waiting for life-saving hearts or lungs. Operating rooms are much busier with transplant surgeries and “one reason for sure is fentanyl”.