A Vernon resident was among a record number of B.C. organ donors who gave the gift of life in 2021.
According to B.C. Transplant, 150 deceased donors gave their organs to someone in need last year, a 23 per cent increase from the previous record of 122 donors in 2018. A total of 529 people received a transplant in 2021.
Russel Stevenson, a 58-year-old from Vernon, donated his liver, pancreas, lungs and both kidneys.
His wife Sylvie says that despite how difficult it was to lose her husband, it’s a comfort to her to think about the people he helped.
“As much as I was hurting, I think about the recipients and their reaction when they got that call that an organ was available,” she said. “I wish them all the best with their second chance at life and wish for them to take advantage of Russel’s gifts.”
Stevenson’s organ donation contributed to several transplant records last year, including 66 lung transplants, 97 liver transplants and 340 kidney transplants.
Stevenson, who died in 2021, surprised Sylvie by telling her he had registered as an organ donor in 2018. She didn’t hesitate to support his decision.
“His heart was bigger than he was,” she said. “Russel was a kind, gentle and caring husband. He always made sure everyone around us was safe and happy and he wanted to take care of all of them.”
Sylvie’s advice to the recipients of his organs is this: “Live the best life you can and do little things to make you and others happier. Knowing that Russ is still alive and living on in someone else is soothing for me. It gives me great pleasure to know that someone has a second chance.”
As of Dec. 31, 2021, there were 585 British Columbians still awaiting an organ transplant. B.C. Transplant is encouraging residents to spend two minutes registering as an organ donor, and then share their decision with their family. To do so, visit www.taketwominutes.ca.