Heart recipient plays in charity hockey game honouring Calgary organ donor
A young, healthy goaltender from Newfoundland played in a hockey tournament Tuesday to honour the young girl credited with saving his life — organ donor Marit McKenzie.
More than 400 students and teachers crowded the Markin MacPhail Arena at Winsport for the fifth annual Marit Cup, honouring the young donor and raising money and awareness about organ donation.
Calgary Christian School hosted the tournament in honour of McKenzie, a CCS alum. McKenzie’s organs helped six other Canadians after she died in January 2013 as a result of a pulmonary embolism.
“The lives she’s saved and the effect it’s had on these people it’s huge, and we’re just happy she had that gift of giving,” said her mother, Susan McKenzie.
This year, the recipient of her heart, Tanner Fitzpatrick flew from Newfoundland to take part in the game for the first time.
“It’s an indescribable feeling, something to be thankful for,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick was born with an enlarged heart. By the time he was 13 he was in desperate need of a transplant.
“It changed my life a lot. I’d never be able to play a hockey game without it.”
Marit’s decision to donate her organs brought life out of tragedy, forever linking two families living thousands of kilometers apart.
“I think Westerners always have a connection with East Coast people, and to meet them and to hear the whole organ transplant story from their side was very moving,” says Bruce McKenzie, Marit’s dad.
As Marit’s parents watch Tanner play the game, Bruce smiles.
“I think Tanner is just such a kind soul. A soft, loving young man,” Bruce said as he and his wife smiled, watching Fitzpatrick play.
“It’s an amazing connection. It’s funny how he reminds us of her so much,” Susan said.
The CCS students skated against their teachers in support of the David Foster Foundation.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.