Susan Harrison

Susan Harrison

A gift to be truly grateful for

When Susan Harrison was on life support, waiting for a liver transplant, she knew how hard hospital staff were working to save her life.

When Susan Harrison was on life support, waiting for her liver transplant, she could feel how hard hospital staff were working to save her life.

Today, 12 years later, Harrison is healthy, happy and excited to thank those who helped her.

“It’s just a real miracle for me, for all of us, that we’re standing and alive,” Harrison said. “All the hospital staff … they fought to save my life, I could feel that when I was dying. The work that they do is extraordinary.”

Harrison and other recipients visited Victoria General Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 4 with Operation Popcorn to thank the staff of various units for the good work they do to help give seriously ill people a second start. They presented the nurses with seasonal tins of popcorn in thanks.

Glenda Beecham received a liver transplant in August 2012 and is now near graduation at the University of Victoria with a bachelor of arts in anthropology.

“They mean I’m here today. They’ve saved my life and helped me through the hard times,” Beecham said.

Also carrying out Operation: Popcorn was Stephen Farmer, a View Royal resident who received a transplant after hepatitis C destroyed the majority of his liver.

While he waited a year for his transplant, Farmer slipped into a coma on five different occasions and spent much time in the Intensive Care Unit of VGH, making his stop at that unit all the more poignant.

“I spent a lot of time here,” Farmer said. “My children were eight years old and ten years old when I had my transplant. Now they’re 17 and 20 years old, graduating from school. … I wouldn’t have seen any of that.”

The act of donating an organ can also be a glimmer of positivity in what is otherwise a terrible situation for the families of donors, the recipients said. Recipients will often write a thank you letter to the family of the donor

“One person said that she had lost a son, a young man, to a sudden aneurism,” said Sam Duke, whose own son received a live-donor transplant from his sister. “He was a donor, and she was so grateful in the long runner that he had been a donor. It gave her great comfort.”

All the recipients stressed their belief in the importance of registering as an organ donor in B.C. Statistics from B.C. Transplant show that while about 85 per cent of B.C. residents believe in the importance of registering as a donor, only 18 per cent have done so.

“Organ transplants are amazing, a miracle, a true gift,” Beecham said. “I’m here today and I get to spend times with my friends and my family and just live my life because of them.”