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

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop, closes section of Fraser Highway

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Surrey RCMP search for missing 17-year-old girl

Mikayla Logan was last seen in Guildford on Tuesday, May 14

North Delta med student helps plant the seed of hope

​Jas Hans shared his mother’s story with a patient at to help the new mom cope with her fears

GALLERY: Cloverdale Rodeo Parade brings thousands through the town centre

From ponies to hot rods, the 73rd annual parade had it all

Surrey to begin ‘public engagement process’ on policing transition next week

First in a series of public events set for May 23 at Cloverdale rec centre

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read