Rhonda Dawes saw a story on Global News in 2017 about a man willing to donate his kidney to a complete stranger. She was inspired by the man’s willingness to help someone he didn’t even know.
“After listening to it, I just said, ‘I want to do that too!'” Dawes said.
She signed up to be a living donor, opting to give her kidney to someone she would never meet.
When you choose that route, efforts are made to make sure that the person receiving the organ and the person giving the organ have no idea who the other person is. Dawes chose that option so that no matter the outcome, she could focus on the positive.
“I chose the anonymous route, and this way I can kind of make up my own story about what a fabulous life they are having now,” she said.
The man who originally inspired her, Shamus Neeson, has been in touch with Dawes and said this is exactly why he shared his story about being a living donor.
“By hearing the words that I was able to share, to the point that there is another human that is alive today because of what I had done in 2017, I mean, I’m going to get teary right now ,” said Neeson.
“I think this is amazing. I really think this is amazing and I’m honoured and I wish more people did it to be honest.”
Dawes signed up to be a living donor in 2017, but the death of her brother-in-law shortly after put her journey on hold.
“It was always in the back of my head that I wanted to keep doing this,” she said. “Then the Humboldt Broncos crash happened. It also happened on my birthday and I felt like the universe was screaming at me that I need to do this.”
Lethbridge native Logan Boulet died in the Broncos bus crash. His decision to donate his organs inspired a movement that’s been dubbed the Logan Boulet Effect, which has seen hundreds of thousands of Canadians — including Dawes — sign up to be organ donors. She has taken part in Green Shirt Day and goes to as many events put on in honour of Boulet as she can.
Boulet’s family said Dawes has taken the message of organ donation one step further than simply signing a donor card.
“When someone comes back and tells you or tells the world, or someone in your own hometown says, ‘I was inspired, but then I got really inspired because of Logan — I’m going to do this,’ that’s huge,” said Logan’s father, Toby Boulet.
Dawes said she hopes by sharing her story someone will feel inspired like she was and also experience the growth she said she has gained through the experience.
“A lot of people have called this, or used the word ‘selfless,’ and I’m really uncomfortable with that term because I feel I’ve gained so much more than I’ve given,” she said.