Grieving family of Humboldt victim works to drive up number of Canadian organ donors

Click to play video: 'Grieving family of Humboldt Bronco victim work to drive up number of Canadian organ donors'
Grieving family of Humboldt Bronco victim work to drive up number of Canadian organ donors
WATCH: Logan Boulet died in hospital a day after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. His parents say they knew organ donation was something their son believed in and offered his organs before doctors could even ask – Feb 28, 2019

For nearly a year, the light in Logan Boulet’s childhood bedroom has been carefully turned on each morning and turned out each night. The 21-year-old was one of 16 people killed last April when the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus he was riding in collided with a semi-truck.

“The other day, I’m pretty sure I turned the light off because I was looking for something in his room and it was just a habit,” Logan’s sister, Mariko, explained.  “My dad noticed immediately, and he was like, ‘Who turned off this light?’ Because it’s such a presence we’ve had in our house the past 10 months.”

The Lethbridge family has always been a tight-knit group. He was close with his parents — Bernadine and Toby are well-known teachers in the southern Alberta community. He was also close with his sister, Mariko, who is three years older.

“They did lots together.  In May of 2017, they went on a big adventure to Paris on their own.  We dropped them off at the airport in Calgary and away they went. They organized it all,” Bernadine Boulet said.

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READ MORE: Death of player in Humboldt Broncos bus crash highlighted organ donation

Mariko, an occupational therapy student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, deferred a practicum for several months so she could remain close by her parents but as they grieve together, the three surviving Boulets are also navigating a new role: they’ve become advocates for organ donation.

“When Logan passed and Bernie offered his organs, from that moment on I feel that we have to continue the work that Logan started,” said Toby Boulet.

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Logan died in hospital a day after the bus crash. His parents say they knew organ donation was something their son believed in and offered his organs before doctors could even ask.

Logan’s heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and corneas have gone on to save or improve the lives of six people across Canada.  According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2016, 256 Canadians died waiting for an organ, and at the end of the year 4,469 were awaiting an organ transplant.  

WATCH: It’s been almost 11 months since 16 lives were lost in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Lethbridge’s Logan Boulet was one of the young men killed. Since his passing, he’s inspired thousands of people from across Canada to consider organ donation. Matt Battochio explains how his family continues to uphold his legacy.

Click to play video: 'Continuing the ‘Logan Boulet Effect’ by promoting organ donation'
Continuing the ‘Logan Boulet Effect’ by promoting organ donation

The Boulets said they knew that donating Logan’s organs would help others but they were stunned by what happened next. In the days and weeks that followed, tens of thousands of people joined organ donation registries across the country in what came to be known as the “Logan Boulet effect.”

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Nearly 100,000 Canadians signed up to become organ donors after learning he had signed his own card. Canadian Blood Services said there were 99,742 registrations in April alone — a number that only included provinces with online registration: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

“It’s been heartwarming,” Bernie said, “to meet some of the people who have been recipients because you know what a difference it’s made in their lives.”

Since then, the Boulets have been asked to speak at events in support of organ donation across the country.

“Back in November, I spoke at the Northern Alberta and Territories Kidney Foundation dinner,” Mariko said.  “It was difficult, but I received a standing ovation — not for me — for my brother’s story. It was amazing to see how much Logan’s stories have impacted these people and then to have the opportunity to have all these people come up and share their transplant stories.”

READ MORE: Humboldt Bronco, Logan Boulet honoured for organ donation at ceremony

On April 7, the day Logan passed away, the Boulet family is launching Green Shirt Day in conjunction with the Canadian Transplant Association and Canadian Blood Services. It’s a day dedicated to promoting organ donation awareness, while honouring the Logan Boulet effect.

“To put it on April 7, the day we lost Logan, it means a lot and I think it will make it less difficult for that day when it comes,” said Mariko.

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“I’m super proud of him. I always was proud of him when he was here, even if I never told him that all the time — but just seeing what he’s created and what he’s left behind is incredible.”

With files from the Canadian Press.

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