Montana Pereman hopes to get 1,000 people to sign up as organ donors in honour of her late father.
The Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School student launched a 14-day organ awareness donation campaign last month as part of her Capstone project. The campaign is in memory of her father Andrew, who died 11 years ago on Feb. 4 after falling off a roof while power washing.
A registered organ donor, Andrew’s heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, eyes and tissue went to five recipients throughout B.C. The man who received Andrew’s heart was able to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, Pereman said.
“I wanted to bring awareness to it because there’s only a one to two per cent chance you’ll be able to donate your organs. It has to be the perfect situation in order to donate,” Pereman, 16, said. “The whole process of becoming an organ donor is super easy but actually dying in the right situation is tricky. You have to be in a home or on a ventilator so your organs can stay functioning.”
Her dad’s body was kept on a ventilator for two days after his death. The five people who would receive his organs were brought to Vancouver General Hospital. They needed six operating theatres at once to complete the transplant and the surgeries were done at night.
Pereman’s mother Natalie said she’s proud her daughter is raising awareness and keeping Andrew’s memory alive. Natalie said Andrew had a big smile, loved playing baseball and everyone was always happy to see him, especially during a game of his beloved slowpitch.
Losing him was painful, she said, but knowing parts of him still live on has made that easier. “For some reason, it was something we had talked about (before he died) and he had said ‘well I’m not going to need them anyway so why not be an organ donor?’” Natalie said.
“It was heartwrenching for me but for other people it was the most exciting day of their lives because they had a new lease on life.”
Pereman said she was initially shocked and angry to learn that her father was an organ donor. However, during her research, she learned that 1.5 million people were registered for organ donation in 2021. When she realized so few were able to donate their organs, she decided to do her part.
As part of her campaign, she posts information on Facebook and Instagram about organ donation and stories of her father. So far she said it’s received a lot of positive attention from her classmates and the wider community. She said she didn’t expect so many of her classmates to sign up, noting some are putting their new status on their driver’s licenses. So far she’s had 25 people sign her pledge and is hoping more follow their lead.
“It’s being spread everywhere,” Pereman said. “There are way more people in this community than I thought who are already organ donors but the process to register now only takes five minutes. A lot of the people who have (registered) are my age.”
To register, go online to transplant.bc.ca. All that’s needed is your B.C. CareCard number, your name and a list of what organs you’re willing to donate. Afterward, Pereman said you can sign the pledge on her Facebook page.
“I would say go for it all because you don’t really need them when you pass away,” Pereman said. “Yes, your loved one has passed away but that doesn’t mean they can’t live on in someone else.”