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‘Elaine is living on’

From left to right, sisters and mother, Dawn Bastarache, Tina Vardy, Jean Laite (Mother), and Elaine Laite.
From left to right, sisters and mother, Dawn Bastarache, Tina Vardy, Jean Laite (Mother), and Elaine Laite.

It wasn’t the news anyone would wish to hear.

In August, Tina Vardy of Clarenville, got a phone call that every family member dreads.

Her sister, Elaine Laite, had been involved in a motorcycle crash in Alberta.

In August, Tina Vardy of Clarenville, got a phone call that every family member dreads.

Her sister, Elaine Laite, had been involved in a motorcycle crash in Alberta.

Formerly of Random Heights, Random Island, Elaine lived in Prince George, British Columbia, where she worked as a correctional officer at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre.

She was on holidays in Alberta at the time of the accident.

After receiving the call, Tina and her sister Dawn Bastarache (who lives in Nova Scotia) flew to Foothills Medical Centre knowing that their sister had suffered severe head trauma and would likely not survive.

While holding out hope that Elaine might recover from her injuries her sister realized, once they arrived at the hospital, that there was no hope. Elaine was brain dead.

“I work in health care... And I knew it wouldn’t be long before (health professionals) would ask questions about organ donation,” Tina said during a recent phone interview.

Tina and Dawn talked with other family members about whether or not Elaine would want to donate her organs.

They knew the answer to that question was a resounding, “Yes.”

Elaine was 40 years old at the time of her death.

Thanks to her gift of organ donation, seven people now have a new lease on life.

“One of her kidneys went to a 46-year-old male, one went to a 27-year-old male. Her pancreas went to a 50-year-old male. Her liver went to a 60-year-old male and both of her lungs were transplanted to a 50-year-old male. One of her corneas went to a 50-year-old male and one went to a 60-year-old male,” Tina said.

Others will benefit from Elaine’s bone and tendons donation.

Elaine’s generous spirit was also remembered in her home community, by a good friend.

Tina said she is grateful to Sherry Stone-Blackmore of Milton, who started a dime collection campaign this past fall to remember Elaine.

Thanks to that fundraiser Elaine’s family and friends donated $175 to the Christmas wish tree at Random Island Academy.

The family also donated in her name to her former school.

“Elaine didn’t have any children but she loved kids. She did a lot of volunteering in B.C. so we also donated $50 to the student (Jennifer Hart) that got the volunteer of the year award,” Tina said.

Talking about her sister’s death brings with it a flood of memories about Elaine and how she touched so many people’s lives.

Elaine reached out to many people, Tina said.

“It didn’t matter how well dressed you were or how downtrodden you were, she just loved helping people.”

Before returning to Newfoundland, Tina and Dawn drove to Prince George to visit the correctional centre where Elaine had worked.

The visit was like seeing a part of their sister that they hadn’t seen before, Tina said.

“We had a tour through the penitentiary. The inmates came up to their doors and said, ‘Sorry for your loss.’ That tells you about the type of person Elaine was.’”

In addition to Tina and Dawn, Elaine also leaves to mourn her mother Jean Laite, father Sterling Laite and brother Larry Laite as well as other relatives and friends.

While it takes time to come to terms with the sudden loss of a loved one, Tina said, knowing that their sister was an organ donor is helping her family through their grief.

“Elaine is living on. She’s helping people. She would have wanted that. And that gives us peace.”

For more information on organ donation visit www.easternhealth.ca or call Call 709-777-6600 or toll free 1-877-640-1110.

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

Elaine Laite.

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