B.C. Transplant starts holiday season off with a pop

Every year, B.C. Transplant gives transplant recipients and donors the chance to give back to B.C. hospital staff. They deliver tins of popcorn to doctors and nurses in the intensive care units, emergency departments, and operating rooms. The event, called Operation Popcorn, took place this year from Dec. 2–6.

On Dec. 2 at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, three transplant recipients and a volunteer joined Shannon McCloskey, the in-house co-ordinator for the Vancouver Island Health Authority with B.C. Transplant, to give their thanks to the hospital staff.

Glenda Beecham, a fourth-year Anthropology student at UVic, was among the transplant recipients in attendance. In August of 2012, Beecham received a liver transplant. This year is her first year participating in Operation Popcorn.

Beecham says Operation was an important way to show her appreciation for all the staff and the workers who helped her through her transplant. She wanted to say to hospital staff, “Thank you for all of your hard work and everything you’ve done for me and all the transplant recipients.”

Steve Farmer, the team leader of Operation Popcorn in Victoria, received his liver transplant nine years ago on Jan. 1. He’s been participating in Operation Popcorn for two years. He said he wanted to “give back for all the caring of the B.C. health system.” Farmer spent Christmas that year in the Victoria General Hospital. He stated that at the time, his illness had caused his skin to turn to a yellowish colour.

Susan Harrison was on life support when she received her liver 12 years ago. She commented that a patient has to be practically dying to make it onto the transplant list. She believes that it is important to show hospital staff how transplants have helped the patients because, most of the time, doctors and nurses only get to see people when they’re sick.

The participants of this year’s Operation Popcorn moved through the hospital, discussing their individual transplant experiences and how the hospital systems work. As all the recipients in attendance had received livers, they spent some time talking about the trips to Vancouver they had to make for checkups. While Victoria does have places to go for after-transplant checkups, the Operation Popcorn attendees explained that there is nowhere in Victoria that caters to liver transplant recipients. Farmer stated that he has to go to Vancouver for checkups that take only 15 minutes. The group was in agreement, though, that having to sometimes make a short trip is worth it to be healthy.

Everyone who attended Operation Popcorn at the Royal Jubilee Hospital stressed the importance of becoming a donor. Medical expenses for tests and lab work that living donors are required to undergo are covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan. There is even a living donor expense reimbursement program that some living donors may qualify for.

Operation Popcorn visited 28 hospitals between Dec. 2 and 6 and delivered 97 tins of popcorn to hospital staff. There were 107 volunteers involved, groups consisting of recipients, living donors, and donor families. The program has been running for 22 years.

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