Elliott Franklin passed away in 2012 from a drug overdose.
Franklin's now 27-year-old brother, Ethan, says what helped alleviate some of the shock and pain was a decision that could make the best of such a tragic situation.
"Our family decided that having my brother be an organ donor would give life to those in need," Ethan explains. "My brother was a kind, compassionate and creative individual. Having his life live on with meaning was important to us."
(Ethan's brother, Elliott)
Elliot ended up donating his liver and kidneys and was able to impact multiple lives because of those gifts.
Connected to organ donation because of his brother's passing, Ethan saw the benefits first hand and stepped up as a volunteer several years later.
"I started volunteering with BC Transplant in 2018 as a way to see the impact organ donation has on others," Ethan says. "Little did I know it would help me heal and feel a sense of connection."
Meeting others whose loved one had also donated or the recipients of those organs really made the donation journey come full circle for Ethan. Witnessing the gratitude of transplant recipients and hearing their stories opened his eyes to Elliot's impact.
A particular moment stands out: "A group of volunteers was in hospital handing out treats to staff as part of BC Transplant's Operation Popcorn. One of those volunteers – a double-lung transplant recipient – suggested we take the stairs a few floors up, rather than use the elevator," remembers Ethan. "Seeing this person using their gift and not shying away from a challenge was heartwarming."
Ethan's experiences outside of his volunteer work are rewarding in a far different sense. He makes his living as a paramedic, responding daily to the types of incidents that lead to organ donation.
"My work as a paramedic is a constant reminder of just how precious life can be. Having firsthand experience with organ donation has deepened my understanding of the medical system," Ethan says. "I believe it has fueled a sense of compassion and helps me better empathize with my patients."
While both duties perhaps provide a sense of closure for the Langley-raised paramedic, he said the ultimate way to honour the brother he lost is to encourage others to share the gift of life.
"I would say to those interested in organ donation to please sign up. Remember, the two minutes it takes to sign up could impact multiple lives for years to come."
Written by: Ryan Uytdewilligen, BC Transplant Volunteer