Liver transplant recipient Doris Keightley broke down when she spoke to staff at Langley Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning.
She reflected on her blessings, none of which she would had lived to see if not for the life-saving gift of a liver 12 years ago, while her kids were in elementary school.
“They’ve all graduated university, I have grandkids,” she said, as her voice began to shake. “I’m sorry, I’m a little emotional right now…”
This is the time of year when organ transplant recipients, living donors, and donor family members thank hospital staff for their work in supporting organ donation across our province.
Keightley and Langley Township Councillor Charlie Fox, who received a kidney from his wife Diane in 2009, visited LMH as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for all staff does.
BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn is an opportunity for those whose lives have been saved by organ donation to deliver festive tins of popcorn to staff in intensive care units, emergency departments and operating rooms (ICUs, EDs and ORs) across the province.
In total, more than 100 volunteers including recipients, living donors and donor families visited 29 hospitals (28 in B.C., one in the Yukon), and delivered more than 100 tins of popcorn to hospital staff.
Operation Popcorn has been saying thank you for 26 years.
Today kicks off our annual #OperationPopcorn–where transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families bring tins of popcorn to hospitals around the province to thank the health care staff for supporting organ donation and transplant. Read more: https://t.co/f4mkJsdG19 pic.twitter.com/EnEXJZoG9b
— BC Transplant (@BC_Transplant) December 4, 2017
In the hospital lobby, before he and Keightley dropped off three large tins to LMH staff, Fox shared his health struggles.
“I have a congenital kidney disease, polycystic kidneys, transferred through my mother,” Fox said. “My kidney function was failing rather noticeably in the late part of 2005 (to) 2007. So I started to look at options.”
Fox, who had been aware of his condition since he was 19, said the average person wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with him, but he was feeling very tired all of the time.
It was never life-threatening, but the options were “pretty clear-cut,” Fox said.
He faced either a transplant or dialysis.
“My mother had been on dialysis for 18 years, so I knew how dialysis works and the limitations it imposed on your lifestyle,” Fox said.
This wasn’t a route Fox wanted to take. He would have been on dialysis three days a week, and he would be very limited when it came to things he valued such as travel.
A transplant, however, would allow him to live a relatively normal life.
“When it came to that decision, my wife decided, ‘Why don’t I see if I’m a match?’” Fox said. “Most matches are genetic, but my wife is not genetically pre-disposed. She went and got tested, it was a rigorous testing process, and she was a good enough match that it worked.”
Fox said Operation Popcorn has two parts: one, to thank hospital staff for all they do, and also how important organ donation is to “saving lives.”
“An organ transplant in itself is every expensive but when you look at the long-term care benefits, it’s a very, very economical way to go from a medical profession, as well,” Fox said.