Most people, if you ask them about organ donation, will tell you they think it’s a good idea—who needs their organs once they are gone?
BC Transplant tells a different story. Only a quarter of people who support organ donation have actually signed up for the organ donor registry in British Columbia.
There are more than 1.5 million people in B.C. that have registered their organ donation decision. Nearly 5,500 British Columbians are alive because of organ transplants; 451 of them just in 2020, during a global pandemic.
April 7 has come to be known as Green Shirt Day in Canada, named after Humboldt Bronco hockey player Logan Boulet, who died in a tragic bus crash in April 2018. Boulet became an organ donor on April 7, 2018, and his gift of life inspired thousands of Canadians to register as organ donors. More than 100,000, in fact. This became known as “the Logan Boulet Effect” and his parents have continued their son’s message every year.
After the story came out about Boulet, 21, donating organs and saving six people’s lives even as his was over, people began wearing green shirts to honour the Broncos, whose jerseys were green and gold.
“Green Shirt Day shows that there is always hope, even in the most tragic situations,” according to BC Transplant.
Green is also the colour of organ donor awareness and April has always been Organ and Tissue Donation Month in B.C., so the relationship is symbiotic.
Those of you who have read Quinn’s Quips over the years will know that my late father was a heart transplant recipient. He lived for six and a half years with his “new” heart, and made the most of it. He and a friend helped found Heart Transplant Home Society, which offers housing close to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for heart transplant recipients from elsewhere in B.C.
We remember Dad’s donor family every April, thanking them privately for the gift they gave us at a tragic time for them.
My immediate family all signed the organ donor registry more than 20 years ago, as we were learning about organ donation while my father waited for the call. We have all at one time or another volunteered or advocated for organ donation, and I have written numerous stories about people who have experienced it from both sides.
I remember asking my Dad after he had recovered from surgery, and when we were writing thank you letters to his donor family—we do not know who they are, we wrote the letters anonymously—how he felt having someone else’s heart beating in his chest.
He told me that it wasn’t someone else’s heart it was his; for someone in a moment of generosity had given it to him as a gift, and he was grateful.
It takes two minutes to give that gift of life. Go online at taketwominutes.ca. If you haven’t already, please take the time.
— Susie Quinn is the Alberni Valley News editor. She is also a registered organ donor.