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‘He lives in that other person’: Family finds hope after Christmas tragedy through decision to donate organs

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A family from Piney, Man., who suffered a Christmas Day tragedy say they’re taking some comfort in knowing that even though they’ve lost their son, someone else may have a chance to live.

Megan and Kevin Neufeld’s eight-year-old son, Tyler, died on Christmas Day after suffering a severe choking episode the week before.

In the face of the heartbreaking loss, the family decided the best way to keep Tyler’s memory alive was to donate his organs.

“Even though our Christmas had gone very far south at that point, we decided to let somebody else’s Christmas be better,” Kevin Neufeld told CBC’s Radio Noon.

“We may have lost our son physically … but the best chance we can think of Tyler being in this world, is the fact that we could have Tyler give the chance of life to some other person out there.”

Tyler’s parents say they know he’ll live on after his organs were donated. (Submitted by Kevin Neufeld)

Megan said that her son had a certain energy.

“Tyler was full of life, a happy boy who loved every single person he met, and he had a huge impact on everyone he met,” she said.

“He didn’t have a single hateful bone in his body.”

‘We just wanted to give another person a chance’

The young boy, born with Down syndrome, was constantly in and out of the hospital during his short life. While at school on the morning of Dec. 18, he suffered a severe choking episode.

Paramedics arrived at the school and provided CPR, and then STARS air ambulance airlifted him from the small southeastern Manitoba town to hospital.

“We were told shortly after he was in the hospital that we needed to get our affairs in order,” said Kevin.

“They were skeptical that he was going to pull out of this.”

Just five days later, Tyler was declared brain dead.

The Neufelds made the agonizing decision to take him off life support on Christmas Day. Despite the emotions involved in their decision, Megan and Kevin Neufeld realized the impact their son could still have.

“We just wanted to give another person a chance at surviving, even though our son couldn’t,” said Kevin.

The Neufelds said prior to that, they never seriously discussed the matter of organ donation — but when the opportunity presented itself, they knew it was the right thing to do.

“Don’t be selfish with yourself.… If you have a chance to donate a piece of yourself to somebody else … it’ll help in the end,” said Kevin.

“It helps the family members that are a part of your life, as well as everybody else who you’ve come in contact with over your time you’ve been here.”

The Neufelds said they were told that Tyler’s liver was given to a pediatric patient.

Even knowing that their decision may have helped save a life, Megan says it’s been a difficult time for the family.

“I’m trying to hold onto the good parts of what Tyler had done, but some days it’s really, really hard,” she said.

“I still wouldn’t change my decision for the world.”

“He lives in that other person,” said Kevin. “He’s bringing happiness and joy to everyone they know.”

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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