The man who discovered the body of the late music legend Prince at his home on April 21 has opened up about his devastating experience that fateful morning, and what he believes could have saved him.
“Nothing can prepare a person to walk into such chaos and sadness,” pre-med student Andrew Kornfeld wrote in a CNN op-ed Friday.
"As I told the 911 dispatcher on April 21," he continued, "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."
Kornfeld had been sent to Prince’s estate in Paisley Park, Minnesota, by his father, Dr. Howard Kornfeld. He was set to talk to Prince about an emergency treatment plan for painkiller addiction, with his father set to join him the following day. Instead, he ended up placing a 911 call shortly after Prince was found dead by his staffers. A subsequent autopsy report, released Thursday, revealed that Prince had died of accidental opioid overdose caused by “fentanyl toxicity.”
In the CNN column, Kornfeld discussed the nature of opioid painkiller addiction and the medication that could have possibly saved Prince’s life. The medication in question is called buprenorphine, and according to Kornfeld, it can help opioid addicts cope with the painful struggle that often comes with painkiller withdrawal. He says it can also diminish the chances of relapse, which can lead to overdosing when a patient tries to take the same dose he or she took before beginning recovery.
“Because buprenorphine helps to eliminate the craving for opioids, and reduces the brutal symptoms, it can give the patient the opportunity to develop healthy life habits and healing behaviors, which can readily become entrenched,” Kornfeld wrote.
Kornfeld notes, however, that buprenorphine can be a difficult medication to acquire in many parts of the U.S..
“Unfortunately, the timely care Prince may have needed, based on the medical examiner’s report, has been difficult to obtain in Minnesota, and in many states in our nation,” he wrote.
“According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, there are 120 buprenorphine prescribers in [Minnesota], roughly 2.2 physicians certified to prescribe the drug, per 100,000 persons — not nearly enough.”
Kornfeld then called for greater awareness and resources to help fight painkiller addiction: “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.”
Kornfeld graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2013. He studied neuroscience and psychology, and now works with his father at Recovery Without Walls, their addiction outpatient clinic in Mill Valley, California, while applying to medical school.