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

PHOTOS: The King of Rock and Roll runs the 25th Annual King and Queen of the Hill Race

Lambrick Park Secondary students, staff, alumni take on Mount Douglas

Colwood taking steps to improve intersection safety after two motor vehicle incidents in one week

Pedestrian and cyclist struck in two separate incidents at Sooke and Metchosin Roads

Esquimalt café cooks up connections for all abilities

A Kinder Cup focuses on positivity, inclusivity and connection

Free bike exchange program available to Greater Victoria kids

The Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford offers free bikes for young learners

Central Saanich sparks up new opening burning bylaw

New bylaw offers ‘balanced approach’ between status quo and tougher provincial regulations

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Most Read