Dozens gathered yesterday morning, lit candles and gave thanks for the gift of life.
Organ donor families and their recipients celebrated the selfless exchanges that have saved multiple lives across the province this year.
GoodHearts spokesman Silvio Dobri was on life support before receiving his new heart 11 years ago, and says the gratitude he feels today is incomparable.
“My new heart is fantastic,” he said with a smile. “It’s much younger than the rest of my body.”
The University of Alberta is the largest transplant centre in Canada. Over 600 patients were awaiting organs at the hospital in 2008. Of those, 51 died, and 245 were transplanted.
Eight “live donor” organ transplants were completed in Alberta over the summer between donors who didn’t know their recipients, Dobri said, proving the province is leading the way in thankless life-saving.
Organ donation proved to be the silver lining in the premature death of Brooke Kolodychuk’s son Sean, who she buried when he was just 23.
“It’s not the natural order of things,” she said yesterday, describing a fall off a banister that rendered her son braindead.
Moments before he was taken off life support, the decision was made to donate his organs to waiting recipient hopefuls, a decision Kolodychuk says saved a handful of lives.
Nine years later, she says she’s “let go after the long journey.”
“Even though we’ve lost a loved one, his spirit will carry on in some way,” she said.