Kentucky Doctor Mourns Loss of Son to Overdose

Eastern Kentucky

Physician fights to help community after losing his son to addiction

In Eastern Kentucky, Dr. William Fannin witnessed as the opioid crisis first hit the region in the 1990s and escalated into the 2000s. It even took son, Sean Fannin, at the age of 28.

As reported in the Courier Journal, Dr. Fannin found his son unconscious in his bedroom. Medical training and a father’s love told him what to do. Give him breath. Start his heart.

The Pikeville, Kentucky, physician cupped his son’s face and tried to resuscitate him on this October evening in 2011. He pushed down on his son’s chest.

Sean Fannin laid there, still unmoving. “It was,” Fannin recalled, his voice fading as he spoke, “too late.”

He soon learned Sean had overdosed on a drug derived from the opium poppy.It was a drug the doctor knew all too well, one he had prescribed to many patients to ease their pain.

Now, many years later, Fannin still finds it tough to talk about the loss of his child, about the overdose of OxyContin and the anti-anxiety medicine Xanax that killed him at just 28.

But he’ll share his experiences with addicted patients and their families.

“Still to this day, he’ll use Sean’s story to get through to somebody,” said his longtime office manager, Amy Hunt. “And he’ll cry at the drop of a hat when he talks about it.”

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To read more about how the opioid crisis swept across Eastern Kentucky, driven by opioid painkillers, please visit the Courier Journal.

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