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Green Shirt Day: Alberta families share effect of organ donation in honour of Logan Boulet

Click to play video: 'Calgary mom inspired to donate her kidney after her son was a recipient' Calgary mom inspired to donate her kidney after her son was a recipient
Tragedy for an Alberta family four years ago has truly transformed organ donation in this country. Before 21-year-old Logan Boulet was killed when his hockey team's bus was involved in a fatal crash, the young man signed his donor card. As Jill Croteau reports, families are sharing their own inspiring stories to commemorate Green Shirt Day – Apr 7, 2022

This Green Shirt Day, Alberta families are sharing their stories of organ donation.

After Logan Boulet lost his life in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, his organs were donated and saved six lives. April 7 is now recognized as a day to raise awareness around organ donation.

Read more: 4th Green Shirt Day sparks awareness around organ donation

Ever since their son lost his life, Toby and Bernadine Boulet have spent countless hours inspiring others about giving the gift of life.

Logan with his sister and his mom. Courtesy: Boulet Family

Logan signed his donor card just weeks before the crash. After hearing the story of the lives saved by Logan’s donations, Canada experienced a massive wave of people signing up to become organ donors. The phenomenon became known as the Logan Boulet effect.

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“It’s huge. The effect is massive,” Toby said. “1.2 million Canadians have engaged in the conversation because of the Logan Boulet effect.

“We taught our kids to be givers and not takers and serve in this way. That’s how we live life and that’s what we continue to do.”

Boulet family. Courtesy: Boulet family

The family doesn’t know who has Logan’s organs, but his mom hopes to have the chance one day to meet the recipients.

“My wife would like to put her head on the chest of someone to hear Logan’s heart beat again. Bernie spent a lot of time with her head on Logan’s chest feeling his heart when he was in hospital,” Toby said.

Deborah Johnson is also intimately aware of the impacts of organ donation, after her son Andrew was diagnosed with kidney disease and required a kidney transplant.

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“My son said: ‘When you’re on dialysis you’re not living. It’s just marking time and holding on.'” I’ve seen my son very ill and that was hard, feeling helpless,” Johnson said.

Deborah with her son George, his wife, her son Andrew and husband Kevin.
Deborah with her son George, his wife, her son Andrew and husband Kevin. Courtesy: Deborah Johnson

She wasn’t a perfect match to give the gift of life to Andrew, but his older brother, George, was.

“All of my children and my husband were willing to donate if they could. Everybody was tested and it was a successful match with George and not the others because of blood type and other issues,” Johnson said.

Read more: The ‘Logan Boulet effect’: Humboldt Broncos player’s family feels pride, heartbreak in wake of tragic death

The heroic gesture inspired her to be an anonymous kidney donor, having the surgery about a month ago.

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Deborah before donor surgery.
Deborah before donor surgery. Courtesy: Deborah Johnson

“Knowing how my son received a kidney and how it changed his life, I was so happy I could do that for someone else,” Johnson said.

“We can all live with one healthy kidney and I learned of the paired kidney donation and it was wonderful I was so excited about doing this,” Johnson said..”

Click to play video: 'Honouring Logan Boulet on ‘Green Shirt Day’' Honouring Logan Boulet on ‘Green Shirt Day’
Honouring Logan Boulet on ‘Green Shirt Day’ – Apr 7, 2022

She said the surgery was seamless and she’s recovering well.

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“Andrew is very proud of me, as are all my children. A lot of my friends think, ‘Wow.’ But I tell them, ‘If you were in my shoes, you would do that same for your family,'” Johnson said.

According to the Kidney Foundation, the average time for kidney patients waiting on a transplant list is nearly four years. Hundreds of Albertans are on that list.

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