LA PRAIRIE, QC- There’s a lot Loïc-Hélène Gros-Desormeaux remembers about the day of her son’s accident.
There was the phone call from the police, the unbearable fear for his safety, and the gratitude she felt after hearing that an off-duty nurse had pulled him out of his burning car in an attempt to save his life.
“She was the first one there,” Gros-Desormeaux told Global News.
“I want to thank her. At least Carl didn’t burn.”
Her son, Carl Shunamon, 34, had crashed head-on into a barrier in the Ville-Marie tunnel in Montreal on Aug. 30, 2015.
After surgery didn’t go as planned, doctors informed them he was brain dead.
His family had to then decide whether to take him off life support and donate his organs.
“Carl was a good person,” said Gros-Desormeaux.
“If he knew he would help somebody, he would have done it, so that’s when we decided [to give his organs].”
Before taking him off the machines, Shunamon’s son, Holden, who turned two just three days after his father’s accident, visited the hospital to say good-bye.
“He was looking at him sleeping, so he went to see him and caress his tattoos – he recognized his Dad,” she said.
“We don’t know if he’s going to have a memory, but at least he can say good-bye.”
Gros-Desormeaux has nothing but praise for the hospital staff that took care of Carl.
Her advice to any family faced with making the difficult decision of whether or not to donate a loved one’s organs is to remember that the decision is theirs and theirs alone.
“Don’t have anybody pushing you. It is a good cause and I think that people should sign their cards when they’re young,” she said.
“You never know when it’s going to happen.”
According to Transplant Québec, one donor can save up to eight lives.
“We can do better in Quebec, but it’s important to know that it’s only one per cent of people that can be an organ donor,” said Louis Beaulieu, Director of Transplant Québec, adding that only about 340 people admitted to hospital each year can be considered donors.
Gros-Desormeaux believes it was the right decision for her family and her son’s memory will continue to live on in her grandson.
“Holden looks so much like Carl, he’s our joy,” she said.