Operation room staff at the Victoria General Hospital listen to Tony Duke’s double lung transplant story as he visits for BC Transplant’s Operation Popcorn and to give thanks for their work. (Keili Bartlett/News staff)

Transplant recipients thank VGH staff with Operation Popcorn

Organ recipients deliver gifts to Victoria General Hospital in thanks for pre- and post-op care

After years of hospital visits, for transplant recipients Stephen Farmer, Tony Duke and Natalie Williams, this trip to the Victoria General Hospital is different.

This time, they’re here to give back to the people who cared for them and other organ transplant recipients as part of BC Transplant’s Operation Popcorn.

Carrying giant red boxes — topped with a bow and full of popcorn, of course — they visited the ER, Operation Room team, the ICU and the pediatric ICU on Dec. 5 as they made their way through the hospital.

“Whether you’re directly involved or not, somewhere along the line, what you do is either helping me or somebody else. It is appreciated,” Tony Duke, who had a double lung transplant two and a half years ago, told a room of hospital staff. “For many people, it is hard to come and say thank you.”

With him were his wife, Beth Campbell-Duke (who was also his caregiver pre- and post-op), Farmer and Williams.

READ MORE: Victoria transplant advocate Simon Keith hospitalized, needs another heart

Natalie Williams is the youngest in the group. At 21 years old, she lived most of her life waiting for a new liver after she was diagnosed with liver disease as a newborn. Williams was sick for 19 years, but since her transplant last year, she’s become an athlete. She’s currently training for her first triathlon.

Farmer had his liver transplant 14 years ago, and has been a part of the BC Transplant organization for years. He needed a new liver when, skin turning yellow from complications of Hepatitis C, he was near death. His two daughters were eight and 10 years old when Farmer got his transplant, and he’s been able to see them grow up and go off to university.

“We do this every year as a small token of appreciation,” Farmer told a group of more than 40 members of the OR staff.

In the ICU, the director of clinic operations, Sarah Crawford-Bohl, said, ”It’s great to see you all standing here and looking so well. Sometimes we see people for just a brief glimpse when they’re in the intensive care unit. You often don’t hear the rest of the story, so it’s great to have you here.”

Operation Popcorn has been giving back for 27 years. Transplants are done in Vancouver, but both pre- and post-operation care is offered through hospitals on Vancouver Island, including VGH.

“I was lucky enough to get a double lung transplant,” Duke said. “I never thought I would be here to see today, I was that close to going. Really, I was dying… There’s still a bit of recovery I have to do, but it’s fantastic to be alive. I actually feel like I’m a different person since I had the transplant. You value things in a way you didn’t value them before. I’m grateful to the hundreds of people who have been involved in getting me this far along.”

READ MORE: You Are Vital $3.5M campaign launched for new hospital equipment


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Transplant recipients Stephen Farmer, Tony Duke and Natalie Williams thank staff at the Victoria General Hospital for their work as they visit for Operation Popcorn. (Keili Bartlett/News staff)

Transplant recipients Stephen Farmer, Tony Duke and Natalie Williams thank staff at the Victoria General Hospital for their work as they visit for Operation Popcorn. (Keili Bartlett/News staff)

Just Posted

Saanich councillors slow to respond for feedback on council procedures

Among calls for procedural changes, staff still waiting to hear from six councillors

Saanich sponsors Jeux de la Francophonie giving $50,000 for the French-language Games

Couns. Susan Brice and Nathalie Chambers opposed funding, citing substantive and procedural concerns

VicPD arrest reportedly armed man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

The man was found near Centennial Square on Tuesday afternoon

Port Renfrew man charged with animal cruelty

Hot coffee poured on dog’s face, say police

Sarah McLachlan performs and donors raise $555,000 for inclusive outdoor activities

Power To Be reached their fundraising goal at their Nature Gala on July 12

VIDEO: Black bear caught climbing tree in Langford neighbourhood

Triangle Mountain residents on alert following bear sighting

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Most Read