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‘Still You Breathe’ released as organ donor tribute song on Green Shirt Day

Click to play video: 'Double lung transplant recipient inspires organ donation tribute song ‘Still You Breathe’' Double lung transplant recipient inspires organ donation tribute song ‘Still You Breathe’
April 7 is now widely recognized as Green Shirt Day, following the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018 and subsequent surge of organ donation awareness. As Eloise Therien explains, a few individuals decided to release a tribute song Wednesday for organ donors and their families, performed by Canadian country music artist Aaron Pritchett. – Apr 7, 2021

A powerful musical tribute was released by Mussell Records on Wednesday, April 7, in honour of Green Shirt Day. 

The song, Still You Breathe, was written by Sheila Moore and Ray Mussell after hearing Morris Irvine‘s journey as a transplant recipient and his subsequent humanitarian efforts.

For more on the writing of the song, click here, or to jump to the Boulet family’s reaction, click here.

Who is Morris Irvine?

 

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Faye and Morris Irvine pictured in Green Shirt Day jerseys during a Zoom interview on April 1, 2021. Eloise Therien / Global News

Morris Irvine, co-founder of the 2nd Chance Trail Ride Society, received a pair of lungs in March of 2011.

He vividly remembers getting the call about his transplant — the day his life changed.

“She asked who I was. I told her who I was,” he said of the University of Alberta nurse who phoned him on that morning.

“She said: ‘I have two lungs.’ I just stopped dead. I just couldn’t believe what she was saying.”

Read more: 3rd annual Green Shirt Day encourages Canadians to talk about organ donation

For the last 10 years, Morris and his wife Faye have been helping raise funds for those recovering from transplants.

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In 2019, he received the Logan Boulet Humanitarian of the Year Award for his contributions.

Writing and recording 'Still You Breathe'

After hearing about Morris’ journey, Sheila Moore decided to start writing. She wanted to surprise him on the 10th anniversary of his life-saving operation.

She enlisted the help of Ray Mussell, a friend and founder of Mussell Records, to mold the story into a song.

“I sent over what I had originally wrote and we started to work together,” Moore said.

“Through maybe four or five different email trails, we managed to flesh out this song,” Mussell added.

With the goal of enlisting a male voice for the song, Canadian country music artist Aaron Pritchett came on board as the lead vocalist.

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Click to play video: 'Green Shirt Day 2021 and the importance of organ donation' Green Shirt Day 2021 and the importance of organ donation
Green Shirt Day 2021 and the importance of organ donation – Apr 7, 2021

“When (Ray) passed the idea past me, I was immediately interested,” Pritchett said.

“It was kind of a tough one to sing, to be honest, in the studio, because there was that emotion that you had to find behind those lyrics.”

Those lyrics include: “Your legacy lives on in me. Your gift was not in vain,” and: “You made a choice that made a difference in my life.”

“With Ray’s talents, song-writing savvy, generosity — and with Aaron being part of it — it became what it is today,” Moore added.

The Irvine family heard the song for the first time about three weeks ago. They say they were blown away by how well the lyrics reflected their story and hope it demonstrates their gratitude for years to come.

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“I’m hoping that the donor or the donor families know how we feel about accepting our lungs, or any transplants. I think we all think about them and are very thankful,” Irvine said.

A connection to donor families: Toby and Bernadine Boulet

Toby and Bernadine Boulet pictured on April 6, 2021. Eloise Therien / Global News

The music video features Green Shirt Day T-shirts provided by Toby and Bernadine Boulet. When the song was revealed to the Irvine family, it was also shown to the Boulets.

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“They’re the other side of it: they’re not the recipient, they’re the donor family,” Moore said.

“Before we went ahead releasing any of this, we wanted to make sure people (who) have had that experience feel good about it.”

On April 6, 2018, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team collided with a semi-truck trailer in Saskatchewan.

Read more: Lethbridge city council supports Green Shirt Day with official proclamation

Logan Boulet, 21, was fatally injured in the crash. He unknowingly created the Logan Boulet Effect and Green Shirt Day after saving six lives through organ donation.

Click to play video: 'Remembering the Humboldt Broncos' Remembering the Humboldt Broncos
Remembering the Humboldt Broncos – Apr 6, 2021

Now, his parents are helping continue his legacy and create whatever good they can from the tragedy.

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Although Still You Breathe references lung transplants, the Boulets believe it’s a message that many will understand.

“It will resonate with all angel donor families,” Toby said. “We have people come up to us all the time and thank us and tell us how special we are and how special Logan is and that song resonates all that.”

“Even though he’s not speaking to Logan, he is speaking to Logan. And it’s beautiful.”

“It is really a beautiful song,” said Bernadine. “It’s the fact that it’s a story that’s being told from the recipient to the donor family… just letting them know what a difference they’ve made in that person’s life.”

On May 8, the song will be performed live during a drive-in concert in Elk Point, Alta. in support of the 2nd Chance Trail Ride.

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