- On Thursday, October 19, the Stouffville Spirit Junior A hockey team will host their inaugural Organ Donor Awareness Night at the Stouffville Arena.
- The evening will honour Steve Mitchell, a former Spirit videographer and heart transplant recipient, who will take part in the ceremonial puck drop.
- The Spirit plan to raise funds for the University Health Network Foundation and boost awareness of the Trillium Gift of Life Network.
- Mitchell received a heart transplant at the University Health Network’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and has requested all 50/50 proceeds be donated to the Foundation. The Spirit are doing so for the first three October home games.
- The Trillium Gift of Life Network is responsible for delivering and coordinating organ and tissue donation and transplantation services across Ontario.
- Trillium Gift of Life Network volunteers, including other organ recipients, will be spreading the word regarding organ donation from the team’s community table in the arena lobby.
- University Health Network Foundation volunteers will also be on-site to provide information.
- The Spirit are currently 6-2-0-2 as they head into Thursday’s bout against the nationally ranked Markham Royals. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
- You can learn more about registering to become an organ donor here.
Steve Mitchell was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition in 1988. While medication sufficiently addressed his condition for many years, the effectiveness wore out by 2019 and Mitchell’s health deteriorated. Doctors told him he needed a heart transplant to survive.
“Being the worrisome type, I thought I was a long-shot to make it,” Mitchell detailed. “I started to make arrangements with my wife for my possible demise.”
Mitchell went through numerous invasive medical procedures in advance of his placement on the transplant list, then began the waiting game. “I drew strength from the OJHL community, as cards, gifts, visits and well-wishes came pouring in,” he explained.
Finally, in September 2019, Mitchell was told a donor had been found and he was called in for the procedure. Facing a range of emotions from happiness and excitement to worry and fear, Mitchell underwent successful transplant surgery.
“Boy, did I have a lot to be thankful for… Family, friends, doctors, nurses, and most of all the true hero of this story: my anonymous heart donor,” he recalled. “By simply signing an organ donation card, I had been saved in the most selfless, generous and heroic act of that person’s life.”