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Collin's Story | Be A Donor Month

April 29, 2024

Collin and Diana Brodrecht with their son, Nolan and daughter, Mya

Diana called home to check in on her husband, Collin, who wasn’t feeling well. Their eight-year-old son, Nolan, picked up the phone and said that his Dad had passed out and Diana rushed home.

When she arrived, their neighbour was performing CPR on Collin. Diana had just completed her CPR recertification as part of her training at Grand River Hospital, where she worked in the Diagnostic Imaging and MRI, and took over until the fire department arrived.

“You never think you will be doing CPR on anyone let alone a family member,” says Diana. “I could tell as a healthcare worker that it wasn’t good.”

Firefighters were first on the scene and revived Collin. Paramedics rushed him to St. Mary’s General Hospital. Doctors determined that Collin had suffered a heart attack and immediately prepared him for surgery.

Collin’s doctor explained to Diana that his left anterior descending (LAD) artery, the biggest artery responsible for carrying almost half of the blood supply to the heart muscle, was completely blocked. They had implanted a stent to open the blockage but were worried about the damage to Collin’s heart and the lack of oxygen to his brain. Collin spent 11 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but never regained consciousness.

While in the ICU, Diana met a family whose son had suffered a tragic overdose and had chosen to help their son make one final gift: the gift of organ and tissue donation. While they knew that they were going to lose her son, they wanted something good to come out of this.

Diana asked the team at St. Mary’s about the possibility of Collin becoming an organ and tissue donor. The organ and tissue donation nurse came into his room and to Diana’s surprise, it was Judy who she had worked with as well at Grand River Hospital.

Diana reflects on the experience and feels that everyone was “exactly where they needed to be”. Collin, Diana and their two children were taken to a private room. Surrounded by family, friends and the medical team at St. Mary’s, they traced Collin’s hand and then traced each of their children’s hands, Nolan’s and Mya’s, inside Collin’s. A small ceramic heart bracelet was tied to each of their wrists and Collin’s as they said their goodbyes.

The nurses and team who cared for Collin spoke to him as they would any other patient as if in conversation. They cared for him with respect, dignity and compassion. St. Mary’s Spiritual Care team provided resources and supports to Diana that helped her in the coming days and the conversations with Nolan and Mya. The team cried with them, comforted them and as Collin was wheeled down the hallway towards the operating room, they paused in honour of the gift he was about to make and the lives he would save.

Diana was told that because of Collin’s gift, two individuals each received a kidney and were taken off dialysis and given their lives back. His lungs and liver were donated to research.

Seven years later, Diana continues to be a champion and advocate for organ and blood donation. As a healthcare professional, Diana works at Guelph General Hospital and sees so many patients, families and individuals whose lives are impacted by organ and tissue donation. It’s something that she is passionate about supporting often meeting and speaking to the community about the importance of becoming a donor and sharing your wishes with those you love.

Locally, our hospitals work closely with Trillium Gift of Life Network to support end-of-life organ and tissue donations so that others can be given the gift of life. There are 1,400 people on average waiting for a lifesaving organ in Ontario and thousands more who need tissue donation.

The need for donors is great. To register your consent to become an organ and tissue donor, learn more and sign up at beadonor.ca.



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