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

Eckville Town Office. (File Photo)
Town of Eckville planning pathway around Manor and Villa

Plans for the pathway has changed slightly following feedback from the community

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(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

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 other encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read