Justin Bieber wants your lungs

One young woman’s struggle for life has become a national (and international) story. Hélène Campbell has been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Currently, she is in Toronto waiting – hoping – to get a lung transplant. She is not, however, spending her time merely waiting; she has taken to the intertubes to raise awareness for organ donation. A couple of weeks ago, she launched a #BeAnOrganDonor twitter campaign. Her friends and followers targeted Canadian IP-scofflaw, Justin Bieber, hoping that he’d help get the word out.

Two days later, he did:

@alungstory i got the word…you have amazing strenght. i got u. #BeAnOrganDonor

help spread the word for @alungstory http://www.alungstory.ca/ #BeAnOrganDonor

Hélène was on Canada AM this morning to talk about her campaign, which has already been a success. Ontario saw an increase in donor registrations of over 500% on the first day of the #BeAnOrganDonor campaign (and that was before the Bieber tweet).

This story has a personal twist for me. My wife has known Hélène since she was a child:

 Every summer of my youth, I worked up at a church camp. I met too many people to count. Counsellors, staff, clergy, families and campers. So many campers. Not only is it a residential – sleep-away – camp, entire families visit, staying in tents or trailers. Some families would come every summer. And some of those families were ones that we staff not only got to know, we got to love them. When we knew they were coming, we were very, very excited.

Because they were awesome. Because they exuded love. Because they were joyful.

And because we adored their kids.

Hélène was one such kid…

In a sad coincidence, Canadian champion freestyle skier Sarah Burke died on January 19 as a result of injuries sustained during a training run. It was the very same day as the #BeAnOrganDonor campaign.

Sarah Burke became an organ donor.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. A beautiful story and a perfectly fine campaign to have within our current system of organ donation.

  2. A small, frivolous update to this story: Hélène was interviewed on CanadaAM last week and later that day as she and her mother awaited delivery of some furniture for their TO apartment, they were visited by two elderly people: Justin Bieber’s grandparents. Her story seems to really touch people. Knowing her, it doesn’t surprise me at all. She is a remarkable young woman and her campaign is merely one manifestation of that.

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