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)

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

BC TransplantIsland HealthVictoria General Hospital

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

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

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria rose to 5.7 per cent in March 2021, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to February 2021. But the local unemployment rate remains the among the lowest in Canada. (Black Press Media File)
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 per cent

The increase marks a reversal from recent months, but local economy among the strongest in Canada

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read