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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the higher-availability dept.

More organs have become available for transplant in British Columbia, Canada, due to a rise in drug overdoses:

After a brutal year where more than 900 people died of drug overdoses in British Columbia, doctors are pointing to one morbid upside. It might sound like something out of a dystopian horror comic, where drug users are wiped out and harvested for organs. New stats released by the health agency responsible for organ transplants show that's not exactly a far-off nightmare anymore. Health officials have noticed a significant uptick in organ donor deaths, and say that fentanyl is likely playing a role. According to BC Transplant, the number of organ donors in the first weeks of 2017 has doubled over this time last year, from 10 to 20. That's resulted in 59 transplants, up from 37 organs over the same period in 2016.

[...] "We started tracking the connection between fentanyl and organ donation more closely at the start of 2017, and fentanyl has been a contributing factor in about a quarter of our donors so far this year." BC Transplant's statement cautions against drawing conclusions based on a small amount of recent data. But long term trends show the proportion of organ donors dying from overdose has gone up steadily over many years. Back in 2013, 7.5 percent of organ donors tested positive for drugs. In 2016, that number rose to 22.7 percent.

Previously: Opioid Addiction is Big Business
Obama Administration Expands Access to Suboxone Treatment
DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
The Calm Before the Kratom Ban


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  • (Score: 2) by driverless on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:48AM

    by driverless (4770) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:48AM (#469626)

    I thought motorcyclists were the top organ donors, do drug overdoses outnumber them now or are they still way ahead?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @09:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @09:19AM (#469629)

      The motorcycle stats I have heard were from the US, which has notably more days a motorcycle can be ridden, and is a far larger part of the local culture.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @10:33AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @10:33AM (#469644)

    Drug addicts tend to have higher rate of potentially fatal virus infections. I don't think there is enough time in organ harvesting situation to properly test safety for organ acceptors. I guess it is situation of potentially trading one ailment for another.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by anubi on Tuesday February 21 2017, @10:41AM

      by anubi (2828) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @10:41AM (#469648) Journal

      Treatment of the viral infection may be less problematic than complete loss of organ function.

      If one has no car at all, the gift of one with an engine malfunction is better than no car at all. Especially in a situation where no cars are available. Get the one you can get and fix it.

      My guess is the drug users generally tend to be younger, stronger, still having the resilience of youth, where organs as old as mine ( >65 yr old ) are near the end of life ( telomerically speaking ), and may not be as much use, even though they are drug-free and mostly still work.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by SanityCheck on Tuesday February 21 2017, @04:14PM

        by SanityCheck (5190) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @04:14PM (#469742)

        Oh thank god I got that new liver, and only with herpes, not even AIDS.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:09PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @08:09PM (#469861)

          Bad example: Most people have Herpes.

      • (Score: 1) by Frost on Thursday February 23 2017, @10:00PM

        by Frost (3313) on Thursday February 23 2017, @10:00PM (#470919)

        It may even be possible to apply extremely aggressive (lethal) antiviral treatments to organ donors on life support, sacrificing everything except the organ(s) to be harvested for transplant.

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by cafebabe on Tuesday February 21 2017, @11:07AM

    by cafebabe (894) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @11:07AM (#469653) Journal

    In the article about Heroin, Fentanyl and Carfentanil [soylentnews.org], I noted [soylentnews.org]:-

    Through selective breeding and/or gene editing, work is advancing to make yeast which makes opioids and/or opioid precursors. I understand that progress is about two or three steps short of dihydrocodeine and something psychoactive may be achieved within five years. When (or before) that occurs, opiates will only require one or two steps beyond brewing beer or wine. What happens from there?

    Well, the yeast will get widely propagated throughout the world and the cost of a hit of heroin (or equivalent) becomes about twice as expensive as beer. Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.

    And the powerful won't care because it dovetails with organ harvesting [soylentnews.org].

    --
    1702845791×2
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday February 21 2017, @01:07PM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @01:07PM (#469662)

      Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.

      Yeah I wonder about that. I think I have access to heroin if I want it, which I don't.

      Kinda like I have infinite access to cheap alcohol, but I don't drink much (barely at all, really) so alcoholism is unlikely diagnosis for me.

      I suspect given the incredible addictiveness of that stuff that anyone susceptible will do anything to get it resulting in not much change if availability were free.

      The main cultural reaction I'd really enjoy seeing is a collapse in street crime, if an addict has to smash my car windows and break into my garage today, and in a decade yeast grown stuff is so cheap that panhandling for an hour will keep him high for weeks, I'm super stoked about that outcome. Its not as good as legalization and transferring all the "civil war on drugs" money into treatment, but at least its a positive step.

      I wonder if there's any BOINC or "folding at home" type distributed processing projects I could contribute to, because for my safety and the safety of my family I can't wait until opiates are cheaper than bottled water.

      • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM

        by cafebabe (894) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM (#469672) Journal

        I'm going to be offline for a few days or more but I may return with a worrying dystopia. The outline is as follows:-

        1. Cost of alcohol continues to fall. I've had a tour of a brewery and it is scary to see 30 people make 0.5 million pints per week. The current limitation is distribution. If a brewery made 10 times the volume of beer then it wouldn't have 10 times the distribution area. It would just saturate one urban area. However, with robotic vehicles, 30 people could oversee the production of 10 million pints per week.
        2. Cost of opiates could be twice the cost of beer while having a much stronger effect. Contraband opiate yeast would lead to moonshine which risks immediate blindness *and* immediate opiate overdose.
        3. You'll see a decrease in petty crime. However, you'll see an increase in violent crime because opiate addicts won't feel any pain. They'll feel like 18 year olds in peak physical fitness even if they're really messed up from multiple, serious fights. I hope that point is self-evident to anyone who's been prescribed opiates and felt absolutely great.
        4. At a really coarse, economic level, your cost of living will increase. Life expectancy (of addicts) will decrease. Therefore, the taxable income which goes into immunization, education and training gets less return. Yes, we can harvest the spare organs but it is much more cost effective to keep them in their original bundles.

        Actually, from that description, it sounds like a zombie invasion. Act accordingly.

        --
        1702845791×2
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:43PM

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:43PM (#469683)

          moonshine which risks immediate blindness

          Yeah that's "reefer madness" stuff from prohibition, still around. I used to brew and being into or formerly into chemistry I dug in and its pretty interesting.

          First of all if you drink about 10000L of fruit juice relatively quickly or maybe 4 or 5 pallets of apple crates you'll die. Long before you'd get really sick from methanol poisoning.

          Its interesting that the problem is the fruit juice itself. Brewing just makes lazy adult humans drink more fruit juice, and obviously distillation concentrates it even more. Drinking six liters of hard cider a day won't give you any worse methanol poisoning than drinking six liters of plain old apple juice, its just more culturally acceptable or believable that someone lost their sight or died from alcohol consumption instead of drinking literal gallons per day of cider.

          Pectin in fruit (the same stuff that makes jam/jellies) can ferment or get enzymatically converted into methanol. Its a measurable problem.

          When you brew cider they want you to run a clarify step to filter the pectin and pulp crap out with diatom earth or high tech high pressure filters to clean it. I suppose a lazy as hell cider brewer could skip that and generate a murky looking brew that produces wicked hangovers. If you were to distill that into a brandy and drink a couple liters a day, assuming your liver didn't kill you, after a couple years long term methanol intake could be an issue. But most people would have died of liver cancer long before the methanol makes them blind. Yet, its statistics, and maybe 1 in 100 will live long enough to go blind first. In summary if you drink an insane amount of hard cider you'll die, and most will die of liver cancer and other extreme alcoholism effects but the extreme tail end will include people dying of methanol related problems. If you're not drinking enough to die its not going to be a problem.

          Real methanol poisoning DID happen but its because methanol smells alcohol-ish and temporarily gets people high, but its like claiming that Agatha Christie detective novels involve poison delivered by tea therefore tea is inherently poisonous. Or a heroin dealer trying to kill off someone could cut the stuff with rat poison therefore heroin is inherently poisonous. Nope. People die from methanol poisoning and its just simple first degree murder, nothing to do with brewing other than reefer madness level propaganda from the prohibition era. If someone wants to kill you or wants to frame a supplier for killing you, and you're drinking liquor, well, the drinking booze makes it easier. To some extent its like arguing gun control. Gun has never hurt anyone, ever, but murderers using guns is a problem. If a cop walked into a speakeasy during prohibition and ordered a screwdriver, it was quite possibly OJ and paint thinner, but thats because they wanted to kill the cop, not because brewing makes significant amounts of methanol. So yeah people have been killed by methanol poisoning, but its a very rare first degree murder problem not an industry wide production problem.

          Its a pity that separating methanol from water is as hard as separating ethanol as its "almost" a fuel source. If you get a fraction of a percent by volume from a million gallons of apple cider, that's probably enough to run in an engine to power at least part of the cider press plant. A small percentage of a hell of a lot of stuff is a modest amount.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by zeigerpuppy on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM

        by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @02:03PM (#469673)

        opiates are already very cheap, grow poppies.
        the cost is caused by keeping it illegal.
        we'll probably look back at current drug policy much as we look back at the alcohol prohibition era. A massive waste of resources and lives that does nothing but enable criminality.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:50PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:50PM (#469848) Journal

      Well, the yeast will get widely propagated throughout the world and the cost of a hit of heroin (or equivalent) becomes about twice as expensive as beer. Opiate addiction and overdose will then reach record levels.
       
      Why bother with all that nonsense? According to our president they're already cheaper than a candy bar.

  • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Tuesday February 21 2017, @04:58PM

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 21 2017, @04:58PM (#469763) Journal

    more than 900 people died of drug overdoses in British Columbia, doctors are pointing to one morbid upside.... a significant uptick in organ donor deaths, and... fentanyl is likely playing a role.

    I have a friend in western England, near Wales, who has told me stories of NHS "accidently" opiod-overdosing (she cited morphine) likely terminal, weak, and older patients (including, she says, a beloved family member). Those using the most resources with less likely healthy outcomes.

    I know that's anecdotal, and not proof, but if it's happening... Is that euthanasia? Is it murder? Or simple shortening of the hospital stay by hastening probably impending death?

    I lean toward "murder" but see the respective points of view.

    Another thing is, like BC in Canada, my home of North Carolina has lots of opiate overdoses (mostly heroin, but also things like oxycodone, dihydromorphone, fentanyl, and friends), and lots of deaths.

    I don't understand it--for which I am very glad. There's lots of heroin and pills for sale here, but despite chronic pain I am not even slightly tempted to look for some. It seems to result in death and destruction, rather than pain management.

    I'd rather just hurt; at least the pain is an old friend by now and very very unlikely to kill me.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @06:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @06:33PM (#469807)

    I had been hopeful that maybe, just maybe the USA would see the light as concerns substance prohibition. It figured it out once with alcohol, but it can't seem to generalize from that example. It tried with cannabis which seems to have led to similar (beneficial for society) results, but that will all be rolled back soon. This opioid epidemic is especially hilarious to me. You could legalize and regulate them, and that way people who use different kinds of opioids would at least have a chance of managing their habits with properly, accurately labeled product or even seeking help in the open. However, it just fits in too nicely with your authoritarian worldview when somebody takes what they think will be their usual dosage of heroin only to wake up dead because it had been mixed with fentanyl. You all also know goddamned well that even just legalizing cannabis greatly reduces overdoses of this entirely different class of drug.

    You are becoming a "3rd world" country, USA, just like those places mommy and daddy used to talk about that didn't even have basic plumbing and were too backwards to even participate in the Cold War. You know, like one of those nasty places where the head of state pays off the local police to assassinate suspected "drug dealers." You just haven't realized it yet because of the massive amount of wealth you still possess.

    I would bet that even a billionaire can eventually spend through his entire fortune partying and living it up in Ibiza with supermodel escorts hanging off his arm and every last sports car you could ever want to drive to wind up in the end homeless and destitute.

    You are cruel and barbaric, and the day will come soon when you wake up to consequences.

    More organ donors? You sound like a "functional alcoholic" making excuses for his habit to me.

    I don't know where we go from here, but you will wake up with a hangover, if you wake up at all from this bender.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22 2017, @04:34AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22 2017, @04:34AM (#469996)

      Well, you're a bit misguided. That's Vancouver, Canada, not Vancouver, USA, in the article.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @06:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @06:47PM (#469814)

    We're going to The Island.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21 2017, @07:07PM (#469822)

      Lincoln Six Echo, is that you?