Ottawa woman awaiting new lungs gets Ellen's attention
First Bieber, now Ellen.
Twenty-year-old Hélène Campbell from Ottawa sure knows how to grab the attention of celebrities in her bid to raise awareness for organ and blood donation.
Campbell desperately needs a new set of lungs after developing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis over the summer. The lung disorder has damaged Campbell's lungs so badly in just a few months, her lung capacity is down to 21 per cent. She's moved to Toronto with her mother while she awaits a transplant.
Last month, Campbell sent a tweet to Justin Bieber, asking him to spread the word about organ donation. He retweeted it to his more than 16 million followers.
The move worked: Ontario's Trillium Gift of Life Network saw an immediate spike in traffic to its beadonor.ca website. The site also saw a spike in online organ donation registrations with close to 2,000 new users offering to become organ donors.
This week, Helene set her sights on Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen, whose trademark dancing starts out every episode of her talk show, recently asked her viewers to send in videos of themselves dancing. Campbell sent in a plea for organ donation awareness.
In a beautifully-shot video, Campbell explained that while she wanted to dance, she couldn't because of her lung condition.
"I love dancing like you do and without getting a lung transplant, I won't be able to do it again," she said.
She then explained why signing up to be an organ donor is so important, and that one organ donor can change the lives of as many as eight people.
At best, Campbell says she hoped Ellen would mention organ donation on her show.
But she got a lot more than that.
On Thursday, Ellen's producers tricked Campbell by telling her that they wanted to set up a Skype interview with them. Instead, Ellen popped up on the camera, doing the interview herself in front of her studio audience.
Ellen told her 3 million or so viewers she was so moved by Campbell's video, she knew she wanted to meet the courageous 20-year-old.
"You actually are sending this out not to help yourself, but you want to help others," Ellen said. "And you asked me to help you get the message across, so I want to help you do that."
That wasn't the only promise Ellen made to Hélène.
"I can't wait for you to have your transplant. And as soon as you do, we're going to fly you and your mom out here for our show. And I'd love to hang out with you backstage. We're going to dance together. We are going to dance together, you and me, okay?" she said.
Campbell told CTV Ottawa she really hopes she can make it.
"I'm very excited. That's definitely one of the other many things to look forward to post-transplant," Campbell said. "But we're going to focus on getting (the transplant) first."
Campbell used her Twitter account and her bilingual blog, A Lung Story, to thank Ellen for the appearance.
"Thank You @TheEllenShow for all the love and support, giving hope to so many! Love you Lung Time!" she wrote, adding the hastags #BeAnOrganDonor and #GiveBlood
With reports from CTV Ottawa's Kimothy Walker and CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman