“I’m going to register to be an organ donor like Ric. If Ric can save lives, so can I.”
That’s what then 20-year-old Logan Boulet said to his father, Toby Boulet, in the summer of 2017.
Ric Suggitt was Logan’s coach, mentor and friend. Suggitt had a conversation with his family about organ donation and saved lives after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage in June 2017.
Logan, a Humboldt Broncos player from Lethbridge, Alta., was moved by Suggitt’s decision. Just weeks before his own death on April 7, 2018, following the tragic team bus crash, Logan signed an organ-donor card when he turned 21 — and told his family about it.
He ultimately donated his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and corneas.
Not only did his decision save lives, it led to the “Logan Boulet effect”: more than 100,000 Canadians signed up to become registered organ donors in the months after his death.
“After that, people realized how they can give back and give the ultimate gift,” Toby says.
Logan’s story also inspired Green Shirt Day to increase organ-donation awareness and registration. In 2019, Green Shirt Day spurred more than 100,000 organ-donation registrations.
Here’s what Canadians need to know about Green Shirt Day and organ donation.
What is Green Shirt Day?
The second annual Green Shirt Day is on April 7 this year.
“It’s a day to celebrate living donors and the donor family. And it also creates awareness of the importance of organ donation,” says Brenda Brown, president of the Canadian Transplant Association, a sponsor of the event.
Brown says Logan’s story really affected people. “He was young, and it could have been anyone — it could have been the boy next door,” she says. “And the fact that he did it on his 21st birthday and it was such a genuine and authentic act resonated with people. And in turn, his family has done something equally authentic to follow his donations up.”
Why don’t more Canadians register as organ donors?
Organ donation awareness in Canada is key, given the odds involved. “We know from public opinion polls that close to 90 per cent of Canadians support organ donation,” says Peggy John, associate director, organ and tissue donation and transplantation with Canadian Blood Services.
Only 23 per cent, however, have registered to donate, despite the fact that 4,400 Canadians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and, on average, 250 Canadians die each year waiting for an organ transplant.
Why don’t more people register to be donors? According to John, some potential donors rule themselves out.
“They say they’re too old or their organs aren’t any good. And we always say: don’t make that decision. Just register your intent, and if that opportunity presents itself, medical professionals are amazing screeners,” she says. “Canada’s oldest organ donor was over the age of 90.”
READ MORE: Here's how organ donation works in Canada
Why it’s important to talk to your family about organ donation
If you want to register your intent to be an organ donor, Brown says that, like Logan, you should let your family know about your wishes. “Bringing up topics in the news, such as Green Shirt Day, will make starting that conversation easier.”
“You have to keep feeding them facts about organ donation and let them know it’s safe,” she adds.
Another good time to talk to family members is during National Organ and Tissue Donation Week, which takes place from April 19 to 25 this year.
Or you can share the story that Logan’s mother, Bernadine Boulet, tells.
“Organ donation was a positive thing that came out of a tragedy that’s made a difference,”
“I tell people about how it extended Logan’s life. We got to walk Logan to the operating room. When organ donation is involved, your loved one gets to stay warm and breathing with assistance like they’re sleeping. They took him in the operating room, and we didn’t have to watch his heart rate drop or him stop breathing or anything like that.
“He went on to live in a different way.”
April 7 is the second annual Canadian Transplant Association Green Shirt Day for organ and tissue donation awareness and registration, presented by Vistaprint Corporate Solutions and in partnership with Global News, Canada’s Organ and Tissue Donation Community and The Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Feeling the Logan Boulet effect? Register, tell your family and be inspired. On April 7, wear green!