Grieving Victoria mother posts heartbreaking plea to find the recipients of her son’s organs


WATCH: A Victoria mother has posted a plea on Facebook after her son’s organ donation in August 2017 saved five lives. April Lawrence reports.

In Colleen Riopel’s favourite photograph she is smiling with her eyes closed as her 26-year-old son Robert kisses her on the top of her head.

“He was very much a mamma’s boy and he was very proud of it,” she said.

But Riopel’s world came crashing down in August 2017 when her little boy, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as a baby, had a grand mal seizure that led to cardiac arrest.

“Unfortunately there was just too much damage done and he passed away five days later,” Riopel said.

Through the fog of grief, Robert’s mother and father were asked if they would like to donate his organs — they instantly said yes. The 26-year-old’s heart, lungs, liver and kidneys ended up saving five lives.

“I think from the bottom of my heart that he’s happy, that if he couldn’t be here, at least he helped others,” his mother said.

Other than an anonymous note, Riopel doesn’t know anything about the people who her son saved just that four are from British Columbia and the fifth is from elsewhere in Canada. Due to privacy reasons, BC Transplant won’t identify any donor or recipient.

So on Saturday Colleen decided to try to find them herself. She posted a plea on Facebook for anyone who received a transplant August 21 or 22, 2017, to get in touch.

I would like every friend and family of mine to please share this post. Im asking for any information of donor…

Posted by Colleen Riopel on Saturday, October 27, 2018

“I would like to tell you about my son, I would like to tell you about the wonderful man he was,” an emotional Riopel said.

She says Robert was full of life and laughter and would do anything for anyone, especially his family.

“He was beautiful, I mean in my eyes he is still beautiful because I still see him, in my dreams,” she said.

Her dream now is to meet the people who received Robert’s gift of life if it’s something they’re willing to do.

“I want to meet the one that received his heart the most, I just want to put my hand on their chest and go ‘hey baby’. That’s all I want,” Riopel said tearfully.

BC Transplant said it facilitates anonymous correspondence between donor families and recipients, but if the two parties have done that and still want to meet after a year has gone by, it would support them. But they add that’s never actually happened in B.C.

If the two parties find each other on their own, BC Transplant says it would not confirm the match.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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