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

Just Posted

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Surrey resident says proposed apartment building is a ‘monstrosity’ in Whalley neighbourhood

Philip Galbraith says he voted for Safe Surrey Coalition to ‘slow down development’

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Crews battle Burnaby blaze; 2 people sent to hospital

Emergency Support Services helping residents displaced by fire

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Most Read