BC Transplant liver recipient Paul Lee hands out popcorn during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn event at Surrey Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 4. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

BC Transplant recipients, family member of donor thank Surrey Memorial Hospital staff

Operation Popcorn takes place in 27 hospitals in B.C. in the first week of December

This week Earl Howell is celebrating a milestone.

Twenty-one years ago, Howell was the recipient of the liver transplant.

“I was in my early 30s. I got some crazy auto-immune disease… I made it until I was 50ish and had my transplant. Ever since everything has been golden,” Howell said.

Howell was one of three volunteers who stopped by Surrey Memorial Hospital to thank staff who make organ donations and transplantations possible. Howell was joined by Paul Lee, another liver transplant recipient, and Ethan Franklin, whose brother donated four organs.

The event, called Operation Popcorn, has been taking place through BC Transplant for 27 years. The event runs in 27 hospitals in B.C. and one in Yukon, according to BC Transplant. More than 90 volunteers, consisting of recipients, living donors and donor families, deliver more than 100 packages to three hospital units.

“We do that once a year to give thanks to all the folks in the various units in the hospitals who do all the good things for us in assisting with transplantation,” said Howell, who lives in White Rock. Howell said he has been involved with Operation Popcorn for several years.

RELATED: B.C. breaks record for number of transplant donations

Lee came to Surrey Memorial about seven years ago, but wasn’t aware he was sick.

“I thought I had a stomach ache. I thought it was indigestion,” he said. “So coming to the emergency, I found out later that my liver was failing.”

Lee, who lives in Surrey, said he stayed at Surrey Memorial for about a week before being transferred to Vancouver General Hospital.

Lee said he began volunteer work after his operation, and he said he’s been helping out with Operation Popcorn each year.

“I still become emotional after seven years,” Lee said.

While Howell has been volunteering for several years with Operation Popcorn, hesaid this is the first time he has been joined by a family member of an organ donor.

Ethan Franklin, whose brother donated four organs about six years ago, said he volunteered as a way to give back in honour of his brother.

“They (BC Transplant) said it was kind of rare,” Franklin said. “I guess they don’t get a lot of family members of donors. It’s usually either a recipient or a donor.”

Since it’s been nearly six years — and at the same hospital his brother was at — Franklin said coming and delivering the popcorn was “kind of therapeutic.”

Franklin added that it’s “cool” to see the recipients and that “the gift of life has been passed on and that they are doing so well.”

RELATED: Surrey RCMP voice pledges to help BC Transplant in memory of sister

Asked what else he could add about taking part in the event for the first time, Franklin said. He said people should think about becoming an organ donor and what it means to them, “especially if they can pass life on.”

“There’s a lot of people that do sign up to be organ donors, but they can only use so few of them because there are specific circumstances that they can harvest the organs,” Franklin said.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

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

Just Posted

White Rock, Surrey, Delta of particular interest in B.C.’s summer bat count

Biologist advises people to stay away from bats, as humans could spread COVID-19 to bat population

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 27: Experts advise keeping distance from bats, federal deficit likely at $260 billion

Out On Patrol non-profit launched by LGBTQ2S+ law enforcement members in B.C.

Surrey-based RCMP officer among board members of new organization

Spending $500K on policing transition during pandemic a ‘waste,’ Surrey council hears

City council on a five-to-four vote authorized $500K for Surrey Police Department IT upgrades

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

BC Ferries losing up to $1.5 million each day as pandemic tanks ridership

The company does not qualify for the wage subsidy

Chilliwack school board censures trustee Barry Neufeld after controversial Facebook post

Board chair issues statement on censure but little else regarding Facebook post controversy

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks

JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story online

Book will be a fairy tale for kids and benefit those particularly affected by the pandemic

BREAKING: Langley Gabby’s Country Cabaret announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife hotspot

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Most Read

l -->