Grandson of transplant recipient wants you to be a donor

Above – Cooper Pirtle – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

Cooper Pirtle, who was featured in the Morinville News Dec. 21 edition, is the grandson of a double-lung transplant recipient. As a result of our story, Pirtle had the opportunity to further deliver his message for Alberta families Thursday when Cooper and his family were invited to the Legislature.

“It’s my mission to raise awareness on organ donation because, as one of 23 grandchildren to a double-lung transplant recipient, I can say on behalf of my family, it means everything to us. He keeps us in line,” Pirtle said in a release Thursday afternoon. “In my efforts, I will continue to inform people on how easy it is to register as a donor, to make posters and hand out pamphlets, and talk to your family and to push for my idea to have green ribbon coffee cups at Tim Hortons during Organ Donation Awareness month in April.”

The government says more than 250,000 Albertans have signed up to become donors in the two years since the government launched the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry and enlisted a network of registries to help.

“Cooper and his family are testaments to how such a simple act of filling out a form can save a life,” said MLA Marie Renaud on behalf of Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. “It’s an inspiring story, but also a challenging one. We’ve had tremendous uptake on the registry, but everyone who wants to be a donor also needs to sit down with their loved ones and talk about their decision.”

Pirtle’s grandfather Morris Irvine is a double-lung transplant recipient. After a 15-year struggle for breath, including five years on oxygen, Irvine received a double-lung transplant in 2011. Irvine used his new lease on life to found an organization with four other lung transplant recipients to raise awareness and funds for Albertans undergoing the transplant process.

“I am forever grateful to my donor family,” Irvine said. “I am so proud of all of my family for feeling the same sense of gratitude. Cooper has seen me unable to attend any of his hockey games and horse events and now I can share with him my passion to drive horses and fish; what a grandpa should do. We started this organization because I’m living proof organ donation works and I know it needs more awareness. I know it takes a simple conversation (maybe I wouldn’t have had to struggle for so long), and the easy process to sign your donor card now needs to be known. Any transplant is a second chance at life, and I want those people on a waiting list to have the same second chance I got.”

The province says Alberta’s rate of deceased donors is increasing. It has risen from 9.9 per cent deceased donors per million population in 2012 to 13.6 in 2014. The province says just one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and make life better for up to 75 other people.

For more info about organ and tissue donation, please visit

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