Community saddened at death of Jonathan Pitre, 17

Jonathan Pitre, in Minnesota prior to his second stem-cell treatment in March 2017. Twitter photo

Resonates across social media

RUSSELL — Social media tributes are pouring in for Jonathan Pitre, 17, after the Ottawa Citizen broke the news this morning about his death in a Minnesota hospital earlier this week.

The Russell native, who would have turned 18 years old on June 2, touched the heart of the Eastern Ontario region as he bravely maintained a positive and wise attitude while constantly wracked by the painful, blistering ravages of severe epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Sufferers of the genetic skin condition are known as “butterfly children” because of their physical fragility.

The Citizen reports that he died Wednesday night after being admitted days earlier to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital with an infection. Pitre, his mother Tina Boileau by his side, had been under the care of doctors specializing in his rare condition at the American institution. They treated him twice with stem cell transplants, taken from marrow drawn from Boileau’s body, starting more than 18 months ago.

The Ottawa Senators tweeted that the team joins “the rest of Ottawa and mourn the loss of our special friend. He taught us what courage and resilience really is, all the while displaying his trademark enthusiasm and smile. We’ll all miss you, Jonathan.”

On behalf of the Ottawa Police Service, Chief Charles Bordeleau also expressed his condolences by way of the social media platform.

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod tweeted that her “heart just breaks for the Pitre family.”

In Pitre’s hometown, Mayor Pierre Leroux tweeted, “our community has lost a incredible young man. He brought out the best in all of us. Johnathan, your courage, your strength of will and your love of life will always be remembered. Rest In Peace.”

“Jonathan you have touched many lives; you educated us,” the Russell Fire Department tweeted, “you showed us what real courage is, you cared for others. Thank you, we are better for having known you.”

The local community was long impressed by Pitre’s courage and oratory skills in the face of his challenges. His hands heavily bandaged as he sat in a wheelchair on stage, the teen held an Embrun audience’s rapt attention while delivering the keynote address in both official languages at the township’s then-newly revived ‘Recognition Gala.’ Held to honour several deserving individuals in the township, Pitre himself was surprised to receive the Ambassador of the Year and the Perseverance awards that evening in November 2015.  The young man’s inspirational message focused on eschewing self-pity in favour self-motivation.




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