National Organ and Tissue Donation Week was launched on CBC national news Monday via a live interview with Almonte resident Laurie Blackstock.
On CBC Morning Live with Heather Hiscox, Blackstock talked about the utter shock and grief of hearing there was no hope of survival for her seemingly healthy 57-year old husband, Stephen Belliveau, after finding him unconscious. And then being “lifted up” from that grief minutes later after learning that Stephen could likely save the lives of others through organ donation. “It not only helped us through grief while in the intensive care unit but also at the funeral and periodically throughout the year. A year after Stephen’s death, I received the best thank you card ever from the young person who is now breathing through Stephen’s lungs.”
After Belliveau experienced neurological death, it was an easy decision to allow him to remain on life support one more day so Trillium Gift of Life could coordinate the transplant team from around Ontario and prospective recipients. Years ago, Belliveau had discussed his wishes with his wife and registered at beadonor.ca. This Ontario-based website offers a quicker way for people to register using their Health Card rather than filling out the form offered at Service Ontario. More than 85% of Ontarians are in favour of organ donation, but only 1 in 3 have registered their consent to donate.
“It was a very ethical process. The Trillium Gift of Life coordinator was not in the room when the ICU doctor asked if I would revoke or fulfill Stephen’s consent to be an organ donor. That way, we did not feel pressured by Trillium. We also were told that people of any age can be a donor in Canada and that cancer does not necessarily prevent organ donation”, says Blackstock.
Blackstock also shared Stephen’s story with MPs on Parliament Hill in the speaker’s lounge on April 24 to encourage Canada to add a checkbox on the federal income tax form as a way to indicate consent to organ and tissue donation nationally, not just provincially. That way, if an Ontarian is living or travelling in another province, their wishes will be known more quickly.
Stephen Belliveau lives on in five Canadians who live and breathe easier with his lungs, kidneys and corneas.