Cooper Pirtle, grandson of a double-lung transplant recipient, has a message for Alberta families this holiday season.
“It’s my mission to raise awareness on organ donation because, as one of 23 grandchildren to a double-lung transplant recipient, I can say on behalf of my family, it means everything to us. He keeps us in line. In my efforts, I will continue to inform people on how easy it is to register as a donor, to make posters and hand out pamphlets, and talk to your family and to push for my idea to have green ribbon coffee cups at Tim Hortons during Organ Donation Awareness month in April.”
In the two years since the government launched the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry and enlisted a network of registries to help, more than 250,000 Albertans have signed up to become donors.
“Cooper and his family are testaments to how such a simple act of filling out a form can save a life. It’s an inspiring story, but also a challenging one. We’ve had tremendous uptake on the registry, but everyone who wants to be a donor also needs to sit down with their loved ones and talk about their decision.”
In 2011, Morris Irvine’s 15-year struggle for breath, including five years on oxygen, ended when he received a double-lung transplant. Irvine used his new lease on life to found an organization with four other lung transplant recipients to raise awareness and funds for Albertans undergoing the transplant process.
“I am forever grateful to my donor family. I am so proud of all of my family for feeling the same sense of gratitude. Cooper has seen me unable to attend any of his hockey games and horse events and now I can share with him my passion to drive horses and fish; what a grandpa should do. We started this organization because I’m living proof organ donation works and I know it needs more awareness. I know it takes a simple conversation (maybe I wouldn’t have had to struggle for so long), and the easy process to sign your donor card now needs to be known. Any transplant is a second chance at life and I want those people on a waiting list to have the same second chance I got.”
“I could not be more proud of my son. He has seen in the last six years how organ donation affects real people. I love his hard work and passion to raise awareness on this issue. Cooper is encouraging people to start a difficult conversation with their loved ones about what their wishes are for their tissues and organs after they die. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s one that could save the lives of many people like my dad. My dad has been such an inspiration to my kids and his other 21 grandkids—this whole process is something we can all say has been a life changer.”
Facts about organ and tissue donation
- Alberta’s rate of deceased donors is increasing, from 9.9 deceased donors per million population in 2012, to 13.6 in 2014.
- Tissue donation is equally as important as organ donation. For example, donated corneas can restore sight and heart valves are life-saving.
- About 2,500 Albertans register every week to become organ and tissue donors.
- Just one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and make life better for up to 75 other people.
To register your consent to donate, or to learn more about organ and tissue donation, please visit ultimategiftalberta.ca.