A lot of people have wish lists at this time of year, but when it comes to organ donation, too many continue to wait.
B.C. Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn is taking place on Vancouver Island this week, with organ recipients visiting hospitals including Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to deliver caramel corn to health care staff in operating rooms, intensive care units and emergency rooms.
The initiative is meant to thank hospital staff for their work supporting organ donation, and bring awareness to B.C. Transplant’s efforts.
Delivering popcorn at NRGH on Monday were transplant recipients Cindy Bachman, of Nanoose Bay, and Deborah Graves, of Nanaimo. Bachman received a kidney transplant, while Graves received two liver transplants.
Bachman, a masters soccer player who has played in international events, told health care workers about her sporting pursuits, which she said would never have been possible without the donated organ she received.
“You’re just slowly deteriorating on dialysis and you’re not able to live your life because you’re tied to a machine,” she told the News Bulletin. “The transplant just makes such a difference to people’s lives. Not only does it improve your health, it just allows you to live your life.”
Bachman received her kidney from a live donor, her sister-in-law, but before that, she had a potential organ donation fall through five days before a scheduled operation.
“So as devastating as that was, what it shows people is they will not proceed if there’s any danger to the donor. So I think that’s a really important part,” she said.
Graves’s liver disease, due to a parasite she encountered while she was travelling abroad, caused her to be sick for more than a decade and she had to wait for six years before receiving a liver. Her body rejected the transplanted organ and her liver started shutting down before she received a second liver that would save her life.
“It’s an amazing gift,” Graves said. “You don’t know just how valuable life is until you are in jeopardy.”
She said while some people might find it a gruesome idea to part with their organs after they die, she hopes more people won’t hesitate to donate.
“You’re not going to use them,” she said. “And there’s more chance, statistically, that you will be a donor recipient than them actually harvesting from you. Think about how many people have transplants.”
While Operation Popcorn was about thanking hospital workers, there are a lot of thank yous still to be expressed, because there are a lot of transplants that still need to be made.
“If I can help out in any way, just to [bring] awareness or just to give thanks, I want to be able to do that. That is such a little thing to be able to do,” Graves said.
For more information, visit http://www.transplant.bc.ca/.