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#LoganBouletEffect and Green Shirt Day still inspire organ donors, 5 years after bus crash

Brandy Hehn has been reluctant in the past to talk about the organ transplants that saved her life.

She finds it painful — even traumatic — to relive her near death experiences, and to think about all the people she met at dialysis treatment who died waiting for a transplant. 

“In the week that I got my transplant, four people got kidneys and four people died. So it’s like, you never know which way it’s going to go,” Hehn said.

She was diagnosed with a rare liver disease when she was just a teenager. In 2009, at the age of 25, her liver was shutting down, her skin and eyes were yellow, and doctors had predicted she’d be dead by the summer.

Hehn got the phone call for a liver transplant in March of that year.

She was worried she wouldn’t be so lucky the next time.

#LoganBouletEffect

Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet, 21, was from Lethbridge, Alta. Boulet had recently signed an organ donation card and was kept on life support while matches were found for his organs. He was expected to save the lives of at least six people.
Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet, 21, was from Lethbridge, Alta. Boulet signed an organ donation card five weeks before the bus crash and was kept on life support while matches were found for his organs. He helped six people. (SJHL)

In 2020, then in need of a kidney, Hehn only waited a few months on the transplant list. It might have been luck, but she credits the Logan Boulet Effect — a wave of organ donation registrations since 2018 inspired by the story of the young hockey player whose organ donations helped six people.

Her gratitude compelled her to overcome her anxiety, share her story and design the 2023 Green Shirt Day logo.

“I wanted to give [his parents] a thank you,” Hehn said, for “organs and hope.”

By now, most Canadians have likely heard Logan Boulet’s story.

The 21-year-old Humboldt Broncos defenceman signed his organ card on his birthday –— five weeks before the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. He was inspired to become an organ donor by his fitness coach, Ric Suggitt, who passed in June 2017.

When Logan told his father Toby Boulet about his wishes, Toby joked, “Nobody wants your organs, you’ll be 85.”

WATCH | Toby and Bernadine Boulet tell the story of donating Logan’s organs

loganbouleteffect and green shirt day still inspire organ donors 5 years after bus crash 1

Toby and Bernadine Boulet wanted to donate their son’s organs, and so did he

15 hours ago

Duration 1:42

Toby and Bernadine Boulet share how they came to donate their son Logan’s organs after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018.

Logan died on April 7, the day after the crash. Six people benefited from his organs and many others from his legacy. 

Logan’s story inspired 150,000 Canadians to register as organ donors in the weeks following the bus crash, and another 100,000 on the first Green Shirt Day. 

“As we approach five years, we still get people who come and tell us, ‘I registered because of Logan’s story,'” his mother, Bernadine, said.

WATCH | Toby and Bernadine Boulet talk about the 5th anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

loganbouleteffect and green shirt day still inspire organ donors 5 years after bus crash 2

Toby and Bernadine Boulet reflect on the 5th anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash

14 hours ago

Duration 6:01

Toby and Bernadine Boulet lost their son, Logan Boulet, in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018. On the fifth anniversary, they say it feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

People want to donate, but don’t register

Dr. Sam Shemie, medical adviser for deceased organ donation with Canadian Blood Services, told the Canadian Press that hundreds of people still die each year while waiting for a transplant.

“Ninety per cent of Canadians say they support organ donation, but only about 32 per cent of them have actually registered their decision,” he said. “If you support it, register your decision or talk to your family.”

Bernadine Boulet (left), her daughter Mariko and husband Toby wear t-shirts in honor of Green Shirt Day. Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet, #27, was declared brain dead at 11:45 a.m. MT on April 7, 2018. His donation of organs and tissues helped six people and spurred a wave of organ donation registrations across Canada, dubbed the #LoganBouletEffect.
Bernadine Boulet, left, her daughter Mariko and husband Toby wear T-shirts in honor of Green Shirt Day. (Submitted by Toby Boulet)

Hehn echoed that plea.

She may need another kidney in roughly eight to 10 years. She’d like to see more Canadians register as donors, and for health-care workers and hospital protocols to encourage people and families.

Her T-shirt logo includes calls to “Register” and “Tell your family.” The design, inspired by Logan Boulet’s love of Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby, includes two hockey sticks as a homage to all the sticks that people put on their porches after the bus crash, and 29 stars to honour all the passengers on the Broncos bus.

The Green Shirt Day campaign hopes to inspire 100,000 new donors. The website has links to register as an organ donor in each province.

Brandy Hehn in a yellow shirt smiles while sitting in front of a Green Shirt Day jersey.
Brandy Hehn, a graphic designer in Regina, was diagnosed with a rare liver disease when she was a teenager. She received a liver transplant in 2009 and a kidney transplant in 2020. (Rob Kruk/Radio-Canada)

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