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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health staff prepare for the reopening of Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta on April 15, 2021. (Fraser Health photo)
Delta hospice at centre of MAiD fight to reopen Thursday

Fraser Health will reopen all 10 beds at the facility on April 15

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including South Surrey’s Pacific Highway should ‘not be left behind’

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read