Robert was 26 when he became an organ donor, and his mother Colleen Riopel is looking to meet the people who recieved five of his organs. (Courtesy of Colleen Riople)

Robert was 26 when he became an organ donor, and his mother Colleen Riopel is looking to meet the people who recieved five of his organs. (Courtesy of Colleen Riople)

Victoria mother seeks recipients of son’s donated organs

Colleen Riopel wants to meet the five people who have her son’s heart, liver, kidneys and lung

On Sunday, BC Transplant Services held a ceremony for the organ donors who helped save lives.

A Victoria mother whose son donated five organs after passing away last year has decided she wants to hear his heartbeat one last time.

“I want to make sure the recipients are OK,” Colleen Riopel said through tears. “It’s so hard to express what this would mean to me, but I think in my mind I would be close to my son one more time. Especially the one who received his heart. I want to feel it beating one more time.”

In August 2017, 26-year-old Robert suffered a tonic-clonic seizure while at a friend’s house. He stopped breathing, and friends performed CPR as they called 9-1-1. By the time his brain got oxygen again, his mother Colleen Riopel said, “the damage was done.”

Robert kept having seizures, went into cardiac arrest and was in a medically-induced coma for five days as his condition deteriorated. When he passed away on Aug. 17, his parents were asked if Robert would donate his organs.

“Absolutely,” Riopel responded. “We know this is exactly what he would want. This is just the type of person he was — he would help anyone with anything. He was such a giving person. I think we made the right decision to donate.”

Now more than a year later, Riopel is turning to Facebook for help finding the five people who live with her son’s kidneys, lung, liver and heart.

READ MORE: Victoria mom calls for more organ donors after first kidney transplant fails

Her post has been shared almost 100 times across North America and as far away as England this week.

“The more it can get out there, then hopefully one of the recipients will get in touch with me. If they’re not interested that’s fine and I respect their privacy. I just want to be given the chance,” Riopel said.

BC Transplant said relationships between donors and recipients can be emotional and unpredictable. The organization advises people seeking to connect with their donor or recipient through social media to use caution, as BC Transplant cannot confirm if they are a match.

BC Transplant operates under the Human Tissue Gift Act, which states the identity of a donor or recipient is confidential. However, families and patients can meet after one year if both have already requested contact anonymously with BC Transplant.

The organization said this is to make sure no one feels pressured into making a decision.

Riopel said she respects the privacy of the recipients but hopes to hear from them.

“I think if I met these people, I could be able to fully heal,” she said.

Riopel has not heard from any of the recipients yet, but whether or not she does, she is urging people to become organ donors.

“Before this, I wasn’t an organ donor. I went and got myself registered,” she said.

People interested in organ donation can find more information at www.transplant.bc.ca.

READ MORE: B.C. breaks record for number of transplant donations


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cyclist navigates the shoulder in traffic along Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria. (John Luton Photo)
Oak Bay council supports Fort Street bike lanes

Victoria bike lanes would connect to Cadboro Bay Road

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are warning people of a continued rise in cybercrime. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Victoria police warn of rising cybercrime called spear phishing

Fraudsters continue to trick people out of large sums of money

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Most Read