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Brian Parson: Heart recipient and firefighter

56-year-old Brian Parson is one of the firefighters keeping residents safe in BC’s Southern Interior.
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​The Vernon Fire Department is deploying members to help with a number of blazes across B.C. in the midst of a record-breaking wildfire season.

"Providing a front-line attack crew, we are deployed to protect infrastructure and homes directly affected by the fires," Parson explains. "I have been a firefighter, now officer, for over 25 years – I moved to Vernon to become a structural firefighter for the city."

Parson calls his job "amazing," noting that it is never the same on any given day and the focus of the job is to help those in need when they can be at their worst. 

"Firefighting offers me the ability to work within a team. For me, I have always wanted to 'make a difference' with my career and my life. To know that it was a life not wasted," Parson explains. "Being given a new heart allowed me to continue to help those in need and fulfill what I see as my life's goal."


Parson never thought that he would be a transplant recipient, but found himself in that position 13 years ago. In the summer of 2006, he developed a persistent cough. 

"After some time, I went to the doctor and went through a gambit of testing. I was in the late stages of heart failure. It was a bit of a shock for sure," Parson recalls.

In and out of hospital after trying multiple medications for several years, he was listed for a transplant in February 2008. 

"One week later, I received my new heart."

Parson had been a registered organ donor for three decades prior to that moment and proudly notes that distinction is now well over 40 years.

"Embracing organ donation and becoming an advocate for organ donation, I contacted BC Transplant to enquire what I might be able to do to help in this worthy cause," Parson says. "I have been in numerous transplant campaigns and have used my position as a firefighter to show that nothing is impossible after transplantation."

The firefighter urges others to understand that taking the step to sign up as an organ donor can truly make a difference. 

 "The gift of organ donation has allowed me to continue what I love, and by doing so, I have also been a part of saving others' lives, and helping those when they most need help ," Parson says.


In his spare time, Parson helps with BC Transplant campaigns and promotes organ donation and transplant at different events. He hopes sharing his experience will inspire others.

"When told that you need an organ transplant, many emotions run through your mind. I think a lot of people think that their lives will never be what they once were. With hard work, determination, and a strong positive attitude, you can return to where you once were before the transplant, or very close to that," Parson said.

 "I had doctors tell me I would never return to being an active firefighter. I worked hard and proved them wrong," Parson said. "I always knew I would return and being positive helped me achieve that goal."

 Written by: Ryan Uytdewilligen, BC Transplant Volunteer

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