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Drug crisis providing organs

Amid the growing death toll of Canada's ongoing opioid epidemic, there's evidence of a correlating increase in the number of healthy human organs available for transplant.

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

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 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.

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.

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



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