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

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read