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

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Most Read