As the first-ever Green Shirt Day arrived across Canada Sunday, several B.C. cities did their part to promote the importance of organ donation.
That’s the message behind the event, which was started by the parents of Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet after his death in last year’s bus crash saw six lives saved — all thanks to his decision to register as a donor.
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In Vancouver, members of the BC Lions, city council and local organ donation advocates gathered at the DIPT store downtown to register organ donors and celebrate Logan’s legacy.
BC Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks said joining with the event was the least he and his team could do.
“You never know the ripple effect you may have on other people,” he said, adding he, himself, is an organ donor as well as a diabetic.
“The chance to lift people up with something like this, there’s no words for how good that feels, to do the right thing.”
Vancouver Coun. Michael Wiebe said as a fellow hockey player, he’s been touched by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy and wants to do everything he can to spread awareness in its wake.
“We want Vancouver to be the city with the most people signing up and the most hockey sticks outside, because it’s so easy to do,” Wiebe said. “We really want to celebrate Logan’s legacy and the legacy of everyone else caught in this tragedy.”
One organ transplant recipient, actor and radio host William “BIGSLEEPS” Stewart, said he’s grateful for the sacrifice made by the person who gave him his kidney three years ago.
“It’s people like Logan who are the reason why I’m still standing here today, because they signed that donor card,” he said. “But it’s also their families for making the final decision. It’s so important to talk to them and have that discussion.”
People in Abbotsford also took to the ice at the local skating arena while wearing their green shirts at an event hosted by the Canadian Transplant Association.
“A lot of people here have organ transplants, myself included,” the association’s president Brenda Brown said, adding that some people managed to get registered at the event.
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“We really want to continue the conversation to raise awareness, most importantly to talk to your families and be inspired by Logan Boulet.”
BC Transplant executive director Leanne Appleton said Sunday she’s already seen some positive effects from Green Shirt Day, and is hopeful it will continue the growth in donor numbers B.C. has seen since Logan’s story came out.
“We’ve been really overwhelmed with how many communities are embracing this,” Appleton said. “We’ve certainly seen an increase in our numbers even in the days ahead of the event, and I’m sure we’ll see several more today.”
B.C. currently boasts 1.3 million registered donors across the province, Appleton said. At the same time, more than 650 people are still waiting for organ transplants, so more are always needed.
Last year saw a record-setting 502 lives get saved through organ transplants in B.C., including 339 kidney transplants and 50 lung transplants.
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BC Transplant says it takes just two minutes to register online.
“All you need is your Personal Health Number,” Appleton said. “You’ll fill out your name, address, and answer a few questions, and that’s it. It’s super easy.”
Appleton said the numbers on how many people are registered Sunday will be released in the coming days.