Manitoba

Thousands of Manitobans sign up to be organ donors following Humboldt tragedy

Manitoba's online organ donor registry is crediting a Humboldt Broncos player's decision to donate his organs for a significant increase in registrations.

Transplant Manitoba says their online registry saw over 4,500 people sign up this week

Transplant Manitoba says their online registry saw over 4500 people sign up this week following Humboldt tragedy. 2:02

Since the Humboldt Broncos' bus crash Transplant Manitoba says 4,587 people have signed up to be organ donors online, and they're crediting Logan Boulet for much of that response. 

Just weeks before the crash the Humboldt Bronco's player signed up to be an organ donor in Saskatchewan. His family went public with their decision to honour his wish after he was taken off life support in the days after the crash. 

Boulet has been credited with saving the lives of at least six people.
Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet, 21, was from Lethbridge, Alta. He was expected to save the lives of at least six people. (SJHL)
 

"He made a courageous decision as a young man as soon as he turned 21, he made the decision to talk to his family about it … and then he went and actually registered that intention to donate," said Dr. Faisal Siddiqui, a physician with Transplant Manitoba.

In comparison, during the same week in March and February, there were 51 and 78 registrations respectively. 

"It's a sign that Canadians, their heart strings have been touched by this story, I think Logan Boulet is a shining example of what young people in our country can do," said Siddiqui.
Dr. Faisal Siddiqui says many people don't realize that they are 6 times more likely to need an organ transplant than they are to actually meet the criteria of becoming a donor. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Transplant Manitoba now has more than 27,500 people signed up to be organ donors and they hope to keep the momentum going. Next week is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness week, and the registry hopes to reach 30,000 registrations by April 30.

The online registry was launched in 2012 and was meant to replace the blue donor cards that Manitobans used to keep in their wallets.

Siddiqui said many Manitobans still have their donor cards, but says they should also sign up online and make their wishes known to their families, because the card may not always be available when it's needed.

"People still use them, if you had one in your wallet years ago, keep it there, but go online also," he said.

More than 4,600 Canadians are currently waiting for a transplant. In Manitoba, there are over 200 people waiting for a kidney and another 30 waiting for a heart, lung or liver transplant.

"You are six times more likely to need an organ transplant, than to actually fit the strict criteria to be an organ donor," said Siddiqui.

"If you're willing to accept one, you're probably willing to donate one as well."

'Give gift of life to others': Mother of donor

Jodie Shepit made the decision to donate her daughter Jazmyn's organs in 2014. Since hearing the news of Boulet's family doing the same she's been reminded of how important it is to help others.

"When you can't save your own child, it so important to offer the gift of life to others," said Shepit.
After Jodie Shepit's daughter, Jazmyn Shepit, was killed in 2014, she made the decision to honour her daughter's wishes and donate her organs, which went to 8 people. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

She said she knew her daughters wishes beforehand and encourages others to have that conversation before a tragedy happens.

"Have it now, have it at your dinner table, be aware, so that you don't have to have it when tragedy strikes," she said.

Blood donations up across the country, but still room for Manitobans to give

Canada's blood bank has also seen a spike in donations across the country since the tragedy in Saskatchewan.

"Particularly in Saskatchewan, where all week we've seen blood donor clinics fully booked and they will continue to be fully booked throughout the month," said Mike Choi, with Canadian Blood Services.
Repeat blood donor, Kimberly Sidloski (centre), says tragedies like Humboldt can sometimes spark new donors because it's something almost everyone can give. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"In Manitoba specifically, we've seen a small increase in blood donation over the last week, but there is still plenty of opportunity to donate blood," he said.

Choi said next week alone there's 300 empty appointments in Winnipeg.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that 4,600 Manitobans are awaiting a transplant. In fact, that number reflects the number of people in need of a transplant nationwide.
    Apr 19, 2018 6:48 PM CT