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Transplant recipients visit BC communities to thank health staff

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​This holiday season marks the 25th anniversary of BC Transplant’s Operation Popcorn — an annual tradition where transplant recipients thank hundreds of health professionals across BC for the gift of life.

"Operation Popcorn is the time of year organ recipients can give back to those who helped them receive the greatest gift of all, the gift of life,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “During the holiday season, consider joining those who generously give of themselves and sign up to be an organ donor.”

This year, Operation Popcorn teams will visit 31 hospitals in BC and one in the Yukon to gift festive tins of popcorn to show their appreciation. To date in 2016, there have been 91 deceased donor cases and
92 living donor cases at hospitals across BC – providing the gift of life to 396 recipients.

“As many as 150 healthcare workers can be involved in the donation and transplant process, and some never learn the outcome of their efforts, much less get an opportunity to meet the people they helped,” says Dr. Sean Keenan, Medical Director for Organ Donation at BC Transplant. “Operation Popcorn is a small way for us to thank everyone from the critical care professionals who care for the deceased donor and their family, to the operating room staff involved in the recovery of organs.”

Support for organ donation across the province continues to rise as more and more British Columbians register their decision in the Organ Donor Registry. A recent partnership between BC Transplant and Service BC, allowing people to register at any of the 62 service BC locations, has led to a steady increase in registrations. So far this year, 76,809 British Columbians have registered their decision, bringing the total registered to 1,044,908.

Facts about the 2016 deliveries

  • 32 hospitals visited (31 in BC, 1 in Yukon)
  • More than 100 volunteers – recipients, living donors and donor families are involved in Operation Popcorn
  • Over 100 tins being delivered
  • Operation Popcorn has been saying thank you for 25 years


Vicki Ellestad, Team Captain, St. Paul’s Hospital – kidney recipient

“It’s been just over three years since my kidney transplant. I look forward to Operation Popcorn because it gives me the opportunity to personally thank the staff in the ORs, ICUs and Emergency Departments who are on the front lines saving lives each day. These individuals not only care for
patients who are losing their lives and families who have lost a loved one, but they also give life to people like me. I am living proof that organ donation works. And, on behalf of myself and my family, I am thankful for the dedication they have to their practice.”

Kathy Green, Team Captain, Victoria General Hospital – double-lung recipient

“This is the third year I have volunteered for Operation Popcorn since my double lung transplant three years ago. To have the opportunity to say thank you to the many people and services involved in organ donation and transplants is truly an honour for me. The emotion and happiness in their faces is something I look forward to every December."

Matt Scaife, Team Captain, Kelowna General Hospital – liver recipient

“When I heard health care professionals that work with organ donors and their families rarely get the opportunity to talk to post-transplant patients, I realized how important it was to participate in Operation Popcorn. I love that I have the opportunity to talk to and visit, but more importantly, thank
those who put in so much hard work dealing with the tragedies that lead to organ donation. This will be my 15th year participating in Operation Popcorn and I hope to continue to be able to thank all those involved locally.”

Media contact

Tina Robinson
Manager Communications & Community Relations BC Transplant
Cell: 604.789.0446
Provincial Health Services Authority Media Line: 778.867.7472

BC Transplant provides provincial oversight for all aspects or organ donation and transplantation in BC, and is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). BC’s three transplant centres are BC Children’s Hospital, St Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. Transplant patients receive follow up care at the transplant centres or at one of eight regional clinics close to their home community. More information: or follow us on Twitter @BC_Transplant.

Provincial Health Services Authority is transforming health care through innovation and is committed to providing the best patient care possible through research and development of leading edge treatments, programs and services. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.


Media opportunities

 If you would like to attend a delivery please RSVP to or 604.877.2146. 

Wednesday, December 7 


  • St. Paul’s Hospital – 10:45 am 
  • BC Children’s Hospital – 9:45 am 


  • Kelowna General Hospital – 10:45 am 

Prince George

  • University Hospital of Northern BC – 10:15 am 

Thursday, December 8

Lower Mainland

  • Royal Columbian Hospital – 9:45 am 

SOURCE: Transplant recipients visit BC communities to thank health staff ( )
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