The California man who found Prince’s body at his Paisley Park estate April 21 has spoken out for the first time about the “chaos and sadness” of that morning and what he believes could have saved the music legend.
“Believe me, nothing can prepare a person to walk into such chaos and sadness,” pre-med student Andrew Kornfeld wrote in a CNN op-ed Friday.
Kornfeld, along with two Prince staffers, found the 57-year-old musician dead in an elevator at his recording complex in Chanhassen one day before Prince was scheduled to meet with his father, Dr. Howard Kornfeld, about his addiction to painkillers.
Howard Kornfeld, a national authority on opioid addiction treatment, sent his son to meet with Prince ahead of time to explain how the confidential treatment would work.
“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,” wrote the younger Kornfeld, who now works with his father at Recovery Without Walls, their addiction outpatient clinic in Mill Valley, Calif. “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 died from an accidental, self-administered overdose of fentanyl, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office said in a report released Thursday.
The report gave no indication of how Prince obtained the painkiller, nor did it list any other cause of death or “significant conditions.”
In the column, Andrew Kornfeld discussed the nature of opioid painkiller addiction and how those suffering from chronic pain can develop a long-term dependence on painkillers.
The medication buprenorphine, which is commonly used to treat opioid addiction, helps people struggling from painkiller withdrawal — and could have been the key to saving Prince, Kornfeld said. He was carrying a starter dose when he arrived at Paisley Park that morning, but it was never given to Prince.
Kornfeld said the drug helps eliminate the cravings for opioids, thereby diminishing the chances of a relapse. But buprenorphine is difficult to access in Minnesota, where only 120 physicians have completed the necessary certification training to prescribe the drug.
“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?” he wrote. “Prince could have been here, standing on the beach beside me.”