A Victoria mother has turned to social media in hopes of locating recipients of her late son’s organ donations.
Canadian donor laws maintain privacy for both donors and recipients, making it difficult for either party to learn the other’s identity. This is why Colleen Riopel is hoping that the recipients will see her post and contact her.
Colleen’s son, Robert, was 26 when he passed, and suffered from complex partial seizures. One summer day last year, he suffered a massive seizure that induced cardiac arrest, and while his friend called 911 and performed CPR right away, he was forced to go into a medically induced coma. He passed away five days later.
Colleen told Victoria Buzz that she is looking for some peace of mind.
“I need closure. I need to know that what we did helped other people. I want to see how they’re doing. I want to tell them how incredible my son was.”
When doctors asked Colleen and her ex-husband if they wanted Robert to be an organ donor, they immediately said yes. “When they asked us we said ‘absolutely’, that is what he would want.”
“He wasn’t a selfish person… He would do anything to help anybody.”
In total, five of Robert’s organs were donated to people who would have died without them: his heart, one lung, liver, and both kidneys. Out of all the donor recipients, Colleen wants to meet the person who received his heart the most.
“I just want to lay my hand on their chest and say ‘hey, baby’”.
Colleen says Robert is remembered most for his good looks and infectious laugh. “He had a way, his laugh, it didn’t matter how foul of a mood you were in, he would always try to get you to laugh. He had an infectious laugh, he would send the whole room going… He got that from me too.”
Robert is survived by his mother, father, a half-brother, and a half-sister.
His nickname was Porkchop.
“Ever since he was a baby, you just wanted to eat him up.”
If you or someone you know received a transplant on August 21 or 22, 2017, Colleen asks that you contact her through Facebook messenger.
“I would like to meet you. I would like to tell you about my son. He was a special man, a loving son, and a devoted brother.”
If you would like to register to become an organ donor, you can visit B.C. Transplant’s website.