Jim Lowes, a living kidney donor who was inspired by Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Logan Boulet, is photographed at his home in Burlington, Ont., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Green Shirt Day, April 7, was started after the crash that killed 16 people and coincides with the anniversary of Logan Boulet’s death. Boulet’s family donated his organs after the crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Jim Lowes, a living kidney donor who was inspired by Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Logan Boulet, is photographed at his home in Burlington, Ont., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Green Shirt Day, April 7, was started after the crash that killed 16 people and coincides with the anniversary of Logan Boulet’s death. Boulet’s family donated his organs after the crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Three years after Broncos bus crash, Logan Boulet still inspiring organ donation

Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after the crash

Jim Lowes had never thought about being an organ donor until he read a story about Logan Boulet nearly three years ago.

Boulet was one of 16 people who died in April 2018 when a truck driver blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus in rural Saskatchewan. Thirteen players were injured.

Boulet, 21, had signed up to be an organ donor on his birthday, five weeks before the crash.

“He had already planned on giving his organs,” said Lowes, who lives in Burlington, Ont. “That really struck me.

“What a brilliant young man. Most kids at that age are not thinking about donating their organs.”

Six people across Canada benefited from Boulet’s organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after learning the player had signed his donor card.

It also led to Green Shirt Day every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet’s death, to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada.

Canadian Blood Services says more than a million people have registered a decision about organ donation in the years since Boulet’s death. There are about 12 million Canadians on provincial registries.

Lowes, 61, said he was inspired by Boulet to be a living donor.

“I was too old to donate (part of) my liver … but I checked into the kidney,” he said. “I ended up donating one of my kidneys.”

Canadian Blood Services says the number of living donors increased in 2019 but dropped about 30 per cent to 427 in 2020. Deceased donors also dropped about 21 per cent to 654.

Officials say the decline was due to COVID-19.

“The impact we’ve seen has changed over the year,” said Dr. Norman Kneteman, a transplant surgeon at University of Alberta Hospital and a member on an expert advisory committee with Canadian Blood Services.

During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, there was fear of the unknown, he said.

“Donation really slowed down and very nearly stopped for awhile.”

Surgeries considered non-essential were delayed. There were fewer trauma patients who might become donors. And there was an early concern about transmission of the novel coronavirus between donor and patient, which he said is extremely rare and can be managed with careful testing.

Kneteman, also a director for the division of transplantation at the U of A, said programs were almost back to normal by summer, and surgeons kept up with transplants during the pandemic’s second wave.

“We did see through the year — 2020 — that we had between 10 and 15 per cent reduction in activity in transplant for all organs,” he said. “We have some catch-up to play there.”

Boulet’s father said his family hopes an online campaign, which started this week, reminds people about organ donation.

“We just want people to register their intent, what they want to do, whether they want to be an organ donor or don’t want to be an organ donor,” Toby Boulet said from Lethbridge, Alta.

He said it’s disappointing organs went unused in the early days of COVID-19.

“We lost many, many chances in Canada to have transplants,” he said.

“There are chances to save lives. There are chances to make people’s lives better and, even though COVID has enveloped and consumed all of us … we can’t forget about organ donation and transplantation.”

Canadian Blood Services said there were some bright spots in 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador brought in a new way last April for residents to register as organ donors. An online registry started in Saskatchewan last September. Nova Scotia recorded higher donation rates as awareness increased before a presumed consent law that requires people to opt out of organ donation.

“The law came into effect in January, but we had been working on changing the system in preparation for the law for the past 18 months,” said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical adviser for the Nova Scotia organ and tissue donation program.

“We’ve ended up having by far the most successful donation year.”

Beed, who was working in an intensive care unit in Saskatoon the week of the Broncos crash, has a special connection to the Boulet family.

“I was involved in taking care of Logan,” he said. “It’s quite remarkable to think I am living in Nova Scotia and doing a lot of donation-related work here, and then happened to be involved with one of the most tragic and significant donation-related circumstances we’ve had.”

Beed said the crash was noticed around the world.

“To be able to find something positive in the middle of such a tragic circumstance — with Logan’s gift — is something that really resonated and continues to resonate.”

ALSO READ: ‘More pain:’ Some Broncos families angry over request in court to delay lawsuit

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Humboldt Broncos

Just Posted

Imogene Lim, a Vancouver Island University anthropology professor, has received a Province of B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship. (Black Press file)
VIU anthropology professor receives B.C. Good Citizenship medal

Imogene Lim’s work includes advocacy for establishing Chinese heritage sites

Saanich Fire Department on the scene after a car crashed into the Walmart in Uptown. (Photo courtesy Dan Wood)
PHOTOS: Saanich firefighters free trapped workers at Uptown Walmart

Incident reported as explosion after driver rammed through wall

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

Rape culture puts the onus on survivors rather than perpetrators.	(THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo/Darren Calabrese)
Explainer: What is rape culture and what does it look like on Vancouver Island?

A rise in online sexual assault allegations prompts conversation

John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
High-risk sex offender banned from central Island, living in Vancouver: police

John Ambrose Seward, 33, has been released from prison under a number of conditions

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

Saanich police are investigating after a small dog was mauled and their was owner bitten in Mount Douglas Park by a large, off-leash dog April 6. (Photo via the Saanich Police Department)
UPDATED: Pup put down after being mauled by large, off-leash dog in Saanich park

Owner turned themself in after incident at Mount Doug Park

Don Bonner, RDN board director, left, Tyler Brown, RDN board chairperson, and Sean De Pol, RDN director of water and wastewater services, at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre April 6. (Shawn Wagar photo)
Nanaimo’s $82-million pollution control centre upgrade now complete

Wastewater treatment enhanced at RDN’s Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre

The CRD is working on a solid waste management plan to reduce the amount of material sent to Hartland Landfill. (Black Press Media file photo)
No time to waste: Greater Victoria closes in on plan for garbage

CRD board to consider final draft solid waste management plan in May

Ryan Rasmussen goes on a training run on Quadra Island. Photo supplied.
Quadra Island man to run 160 km to raise funds for alternative cancer care

‘I feel like I need to be in pain to raise the money… I can’t do something that’s easy’ — Ryan Rasmussen

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Most Read