Andrew Kornfield, a pre-medical student and son of Dr. Howard Kornfield, who is a nationally known authority on opioid addiction, spoke out about the morning of April 21 when he and two of Prince’s staffers found Prince dead in the elevator of his Paisley Place mansion, where he had been dead for hours.
Prince’s autopsy revealed he died of an overdose of Fentanyl, a powerful opioid that would have caused the respiratory center in Prince’s brain to shut down, eventually leading to respiratory and the cardiac arrest. Whether Fentanyl was prescribed to him is unknown. It had been previously reported that Prince had a long-standing addiction to Percocet, a narcotic pain medicine that he began using after it was prescribed to him for pain in his hips from years of stage performances in high-heeled boots.
Prince allegedly recognized that he was addicted to opiates and was trying to get off of the powerful drugs, but was having difficulty. He had contacted Dr. Kornfield, and was to have an appointment with him the following day. Andrew Kornfield, who works alongside his father, was going to Prince’s home to discuss confidentiality agreements regarding his treatment and progress in the program once he entered. When he arrived, staffers accompanied him to the elevator, where they discovered Prince’s body, and it appeared he had been dead for a while. Andrew Kornfield says that “chaos and sadness” ensued among the staffers, and he was the only one who was composed enough to make the 911 call, according to Star Tribune.
“Believe me, nothing can prepare a person to walk into such chaos and sadness. As I told the 911 dispatcher on April 21, those on the scene were distraught, which was why I was the one to place the call. But what happened has made me think, long and hard, about what steps we must take to prevent such entirely unnecessary loss of life.”
Prince was just 57-years-old when he died, and his autopsy allegedly found no other notable disease processes or problems that would have lead to his death other than the amount of Fentanyl in his system, which he is believed to have administered to himself. Andrew Kornfield says that Prince’s appointment with his father the next day would have allowed him to begin treatment immediately, including a prescription for buprenorphine, a drug that treats opiate withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings for narcotics, making it more likely to stick to a treatment plan without relapse.
Only around 120 doctors in Minnesota are educated to prescribe the medication that Dr. Howard Kornfield was going to give to Prince as part of his treatment for opioid addiction, according to Andrew Kornfield, but he never had the opportunity. He even had some of the medication with him when he went to Prince’s home, but Prince had been deceased too long for it to do any good.
Andrew Kornfield says that he regrets that Prince died so shortly before he was scheduled to begin intensive treatment.
“What if my father and had been able to reach Prince just a week earlier, like so many others we have helped take back their lives? Prince could have been here, standing on the beach beside me.”
Prince’s death stunned the world and brought new awareness to the problem of opiate addiction and the fact that nobody is immune to the devastating consequences of narcotic overdose. Prince had no surviving children and was unmarried at the time of his death, but had siblings and family that were in close contact and cared for his funeral arrangements. Prince’s iconic movie, Purple Rain, is scheduled to come back to theatres this summer as a celebration of his rise to fame.
[Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images]