‘Let’s talk about it’: Heart recipient wants more discussion around organ donation

A Nova Scotia man is recovering from a heart transplant after living with a potentially fatal heart condition for 25 years.

Despite now living in Calgary, he’s advocating for more conversation around Nova Scotia’s Organ and Tissue Donation Act that will come into effect next year.

Adam Delorey, a comedian originally from Tracadie, N.S., lived with a chronic heart condition most of his life.

Cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening disease. His heart failed for the first time when he was 13. He faced heart failure twice more before he turned 40.

Earlier this year, Premier Stephen McNeil announced legislation that will make the province the first jurisdiction in North America to have presumed consent for organ and tissue donation, meaning anyone who does not opt out will be considered a potential donor. 

With a wife and two young daughters, Delorey wants to educate people on the subject.

“Unless your loved ones know that you want your organs to be donated, the doctors can’t touch them,” he said. 

‘Everyone thinks they’re going to live until they’re 80’

Delorey said it should be a matter of discussion with loved ones. Making intentions known to next of kin is important, and he said those discussions often aren’t considered by young people.

“People don’t want to think about becoming a donor because [that means] you’re thinking about your early demise,” he said. “Everyone thinks they’re going to live until they’re 80.”


Delorey and his daughter, Charlotte, at the hospital (Delorey family)

For years, Delorey’s heart was supported by a small pump used to assist circulation in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. 

He went on the waiting list for a new heart on May 29.

He said he prepared himself to wait at least a year. But as a comic, that meant meant some tough professional choices. 

Because he was the waiting list, he had to stay in Alberta in case a heart became available. This meant he had to decline stand-up opportunities all over the country.

But it was a special request that made Delorey rethink his decision. 

A producer from the CBC’s Debaters reached out, asking him to be on a panel that would discuss Nova Scotia’s Organ and Tissue Donation Act. But making it on the show meant a trip to Halifax. 

Despite the risk of losing his spot on the list, he accepted the invitation because he felt passionate about the discussion. 

“Even though [the show] is humour driven and it’s kind of playing around … It’s getting the conversation going,” he said. 

Delorey was set to leave on June 20 to record the episode. But he never made his flight. 

The call he had been waiting for came in five days before he was set to fly to Nova Scotia.

“The heart was a 100 per cent match.”

Although Delorey missed the taping, he’s certain he will continue advocating for organ donation and encouraging people to discuss the subject. For now, he’s doing what he can while healing at home.

He wants people to start talking about whether they’re comfortable being an organ donor. 

 “Let’s not turn a blind eye to be ignorant of the situation,” he said. “Let’s talk about it.”

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