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 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

Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read