3rd annual Green Shirt Day highlights need to talk about organ donation

Green Shirt Day is held on April 7th in support of organ donor awareness and registration in Canada and a Calgary family is sharing their story on the third anniversary to encourage others to sign up.

Two-year-old Liam Ball was born with underdeveloped kidneys and needs a kidney transplant. He’s been in and out of the hospital since birth and has had multiple surgeries.

“He does need a kidney transplant that’s because dialysis is not usually seen as a long-term solution,” said mom Kim Ball. 

“If we could get him a transplant I’d love to take him swimming. That’s one of our big things is to hopefully get him in a pool and let him splash around and have some fun and enjoy that time with his siblings.”

Ball’s husband is a blood type match with Liam and will soon undergo testing to see if he can be a living donor for his son. Ball said the hope is Liam can receive a kidney donation within the next year.

“I think it’s really important knowing that my own kid is going to need assistance from organ lists, sure we’re doing the living donor this time but whose to say when we’re going to need the next one or if his siblings would be a match would be the other potential so it really is great to make sure you have those conversations with your family,” said Ball.

Green Shirt Day is a legacy project in honour of Humboldt Bronco’s defenceman Logal Boulet.

Boulet was one of 16 people killed in April 2018 when a truck driver ran a stop sign and drove into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus in rural Saskatchewan. 13 people were injured. 

Boulet had signed up to be an organ donor on his 21st birthday, just weeks before the crash. His decision saved six lives.

Boulet inspired the ‘Logan Boulet Effect’ and nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after his death. 

On April 7th every year, Boulet’s parents now use the day to promote organ donor awareness and registration. 

“It’s not that hard to become a registered donor and that he takes a couple minutes to do it and fortunately in Alberta, our government has made it a little bit easier to register, and that will make a difference, hopefully, to get the numbers up again,” said Bernie Boulet, Logan’s mother. 

Last year the province changed the registration process to be entirely online. 

“In Alberta it's important that young people know about this that you can register at 18 years of age and it empowers you to make your own decision what you want to do,” said Toby Boulet, Logan’s father.

According to The Kidney Foundation of Canada, organ donation registration is down 39 per cent during the pandemic.

There are 4,400 Canadians waiting for an organ transplant. The Kidney Foundation says  every year on average, 250 people in Canada die because they aren’t able to get the life-saving organ they need.

“The waiting list never stops growing so we need people to really think about organ donation and register,” said Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, southern Alberta and Saskatchewan branch. 

“It’s so much easier to make a decision if you know what your loved one's wishes were because only about one to two per cent of all deaths will qualify medically as an organ donor so that’s why its so important that each and every one does not get missed and why we need people thinking about it,” said Van Deurzen. 

You can sign up to be an organ donor online.