A former Winnipeg Blue Bomber says giving the gift of life to his father was a no-brainer.
Mike Abou-Mechrek, who spent five of his 10 pro seasons in blue and gold, is recovering in his current home of Regina after donating a kidney to his dad, and he told 680 CJOB he wants all Canadians to know how easy — and life-saving — being an organ donor can be.
“Anybody can do it,” Abou-Mechrek said. “It is special, I suppose, but it really wasn’t a decision for me — my dad needed help, I could help him, so you do it.
“It’s such an easy process… A week out of my life gave my dad another 10 years.”
Abou-Mechrek, an offensive lineman who spent two separate stints in Winnipeg, wearing Bombers colours from 1999-2001 and again from 2005-06, said he first recognized the benefits of organ donation during his time in the city.
“A couple of decades ago, while I was with the Bombers, my ex-wife actually donated a kidney to her dad while we were together.
“I’ll never forget going to the recovery room minutes after he came out of surgery, and the man looked like he just came back from Jamaica.”
Abou-Mechrek said seeing the immediate impact it made on his former father-in-law meant it was an easy decision when his own father needed the same surgery.
“When my dad needed a kidney, I said, ‘All right, let’s go get tested.’
“If you knew how much good you could do, you would do it.”
Although Abou-Mechrek currently lives in Regina — where he played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their 2007 Grey Cup victory over the Bombers — he’s still passionate about Winnipeg, even if he gets some looks for wearing Bombers gear.
“It’s tough, because living in Regina, I can’t wear my Winnipeg gear as much. You’ve got to suppress it,” he said.
“The best thing out of Winnipeg is my daughter, who was born there… and a football career when no one else wanted to give me a chance. I have love for the Bombers, the city of Winnipeg… They are part of my family.”
More information on organ donation in Manitoba is available online at Sign Up for Life.