Inaugural Green Shirt Day held to raise organ donation awareness in Alberta
Sunday marked a year and a day since the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
It also marked the first-ever Green Shirt Day in Canada, which honours the crash’s victims — including Broncos player Logan Boulet, a 21-year-old defenceman from Lethbridge, Alta. — highlights the need for organ donors across the country.
After being inspired by a coach, Boulet made the choice to sign his organ donor card and told his parents, Bernadine and Toby Boulet, about it.
Boulet’s heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and corneas were donated, saving or improving the lives of six people across Canada.
The impact his death had on the organ donation surge in the country was dubbed the Logan Boulet Effect — with more than 100,000 people registering, it’s the largest amount of people registering to become organ donors in Canadian history due to one event and one person, according to the Canadian Transplant Association.
The plan is to hold Green Shirt Day every April 7 — green because it’s the official colour of organ and tissue donation, and April 7 because it was the day Boulet died.
In their hometown of Lethbridge, Boulet’s parents celebrated their son’s legacy with a skate at ATB Centre on Sunday. The pair said they are honoured that because of one “small decision,” Green Shirt Day has cemented Logan and the team’s legacy.
“The registration shot through the roof because of Logan Boulet but it also, at the same time, is because of the Humboldt Broncos,” Toby said. “Without the massive tragedy, it wouldn’t have been near the story [it was].”
Despite the family’s devastating loss, Bernadine said support from the city has been heartwarming.
“We just want people to wear green,” she said. “We want people to be inspired, to register and to have a conversation with their family about being an organ donor.”
“We wear green because it’s hope, it’s renewal, it’s for the Broncos, it’s for organ donation.”
In addition to upcoming speaking engagements, the Boulets have organized a sold-out golf tournament for Logan on June 22.
With the amount of attention organ registration has received, Bernadine said Logan is probably watching, saying, “That’s enough.”
“He’s not a limelight kind of guy… He’s the guy that supports people and from the background, makes sure people are included,” Bernadine said.
McKailyn Ives, Logan’s girlfriend, said not only is her best friend living on in six people, but he’s also inspired countless others.
“It was difficult to see all my friends moving on with their lives and doing things I thought Logan and I were going to do together,” she said. “But it’s also been nice to see how his decision has impacted so many people and [was] such a positive change, not only locally but nationally and worldwide.”
Just north of Calgary, the Canadian Liver Foundation was at the CrossIron Mills shopping centre with volunteers who have all received liver transplants. They spent Sunday spreading Boulet’s message.
Twenty years ago, volunteer Celina Thibault was diagnosed with primary biliary cholangitis, an auto-immune disease. In July 2012, her wait for a liver was finally over. When the organ was ready, she shared it with a toddler who was ill and required a transplant too.
“I have a second chance thanks to somebody who donated their organs,” Thibault said Sunday. “There is life after transplant.”
While she’s seen progress in people signing up to be donors, nothing compares to what’s happened in the past year.
“The work that we’ve been trying to do for years, Logan did it for us in one day,” Thibault said.
“He’s such a beautiful young man and his parents are heroes as well because they’re passing that message to everybody.”
READ MORE: Here’s how organ donation works in Canada
It’s easy to sign up and you can select which organs are donated, Thibault explained.
“You can check what you want to keep, what you don’t want to keep,” she said. “You can’t take it with you.”
WATCH: Calgarians marked Green Shirt Day on Sunday by spreading Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet’s message of organ donation awareness. Michael King reports.
Kingsway Mall hosted Edmonton’s Green Shirt Day on Sunday, with volunteers encouraging people to sign up as organ donors.
Christina Osmond-Provencher’s 19-year-old son died after a Coliseum LRT Station stabbing two years ago, she said on Sunday. Brandon Provencher was declared brain dead on April 14, 2017.
“He had one stab wound to the heart and lung,” she said. “They were able to repair both, but because of the amount of time with a lack of oxygen to the brain, he was pronounced brain dead on Good Friday of 2017. And then, we donated his organs Easter Sunday.”
Four people were saved because of Provencher’s donation.
“It’s torn a lot of people apart because of the way that we lost him, but because we were able to donate his organs, it gives us a little bit of peace, that there’s part of him out there,” Osmond-Provencher said.
The recipient of Provencher’s lungs wrote to Osmond-Provencher, saying he’s able to do things with his grandchildren because of her son’s gift.
WATCH: People across the country wore green this weekend, raising awareness about organ donations. Green Shirt Day honours the passing of a Humboldt Broncos player who gave his organs to save others. As Albert Delitala reports, for one Edmonton family, it hits close to home.
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