New monument to honour organ donors in Sudbury, Ont.
Monument will be a permanent reminder of the importance of organ donation
Bob Johnston says his organ donor is his best friend.
Although he'll never get to meet the man whose kidney he received in October 2015, Johnston says he's with him every minute of the day.
"I've never met him and never will, but he's living on with me."
Johnston thinks organ donors are more than just donors—they're heroes. That's why he'll be presenting a monument in memory of organ donors to the city of Greater Sudbury.
The stone monument—which was created by Sudbury Memorial Works—will be located on the corner of Oak and Lorne streets, along with a flag pole and some planted trees and flowers. Johnston says he'd also like to add benches in the future, so that the monument can become a place of reflection for recipients.
"I know for a fact that organ donor recipients do a lot of thinking about the person who donated to them," he says.
'I got the gift of life, and there are other people who need it'
Johnston spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting after his surgery, and says he decided to do something to raise awareness of organ donation.
"I couldn't just walk down the street and say, you know, 'I got my transplant, thank you,'" he says. "I got the gift of life, and there are other people who need it."
Johnston started the Cruisin' for Organ Donors and Rich charity ride last year with city councillor Gerry Montpellier, inspired in part by local radio personality Rich Griffin. Griffin died suddenly in 2015, but his organs went on to save five lives.
Johnston says the ride is growing, with 95 cars last year and 125 cars at this year's event in June. The monument, however, will be a more permanent reminder of the importance of organ donation.
"When somebody is waiting for a transplant, you know, you can't go out and buy it," he says. "We have to count on family and friends and strangers to step up to the plate and help us out."
Johnston will be presenting the monument to the city on Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. There will also be a flag raising ceremony and free barbecue.