Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

One family’s decision gives three people the ultimate gift on Christmas Day

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving each holiday season. Her mother, Allison Sears, gave the gift of life as an organ donor on Christmas Day 2015.

Carroll is sharing her story as part of BC Transplant’s 29th annual Operation Popcorn campaign.

In the past Operation Popcorn has seen organ donor recipients, family members of organ donors and representatives from BC Transplant deliver festive boxes of popcorn to staff in hospital intensive care units, operating rooms and emergency departments that have been involved in a transplant in some way. Carroll and her sons, Riley and Samuel, have participated in the past.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic, deliveries happened directly or popcorn was dropped off by BC Transplant staff members.

Popcorn was delivered this year to seven hospitals on Vancouver Island, including Tofino General Hospital. Others were North Island Hospital Campbell River and District; North Island Hospital Comox Valley; Cowichan District Hospital; Nanaimo Regional General Hospital; Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospital.

Allison Sears was an optician living on Gabriola Island when she suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage on Dec. 24, 2015.

Carroll, her brother and father all knew Allison was registered as an organ donor, so when the time came, the decision to donate her organs was easy. Three people received life-saving organ transplants, and one person received Sears’ corneas.

“So much of what made those raw early days after my mom died easier was holding those three families in my hearts,” Carroll said.

“It’s Christmas and everything is so horrible, but imagine someone else is going to get that call on Christmas Day,” she said was the thought running through her mind.

“My mother was selfless in life and death,” she said. “Losing my mother broke my heart but I have found so much happiness and a sense of peace as a result of her being an organ donor. Her generous gifts mean other families are still sharing beautiful moments here on earth.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have altered Operation Popcorn this year, but the need for organ donors has not decreased. There are currently 750 people in B.C. waiting for transplants.

There is one message Carroll said people always miss when she tells her story. “People are under the misconception that (doctors) don’t work hard to save your life if you’re an organ donor. It’s so not true. Your life matters just as much and they’re still working hard.

“With my mom, she almost had no brain activity. We couldn’t have done anything differently for her.”

When the family brought up the fact Allison had signed an organ donor card, “a completely different team stepped in.

“They took such good care of us, and they took such good care of my mom too.”

Carroll said it has been enough years now that she would like to meet the people who received organs from her mother, if they are willing. Rules have changed in British Columbia in the past few years to allow recipients and donor families to meet.

“From what I’ve been told, everyone is doing amazing. I try to make peace to know they’re out there in the world and that would be enough. But we don’t get over losing our parents.”

To learn more about organ donation and to register to be an organ donor, go online to www.transplant.bc.ca.

Island HealthPORT ALBERNIVancouver Island Health Authority

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

 

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read