Skip to main content

Going virtual: How BC Transplant volunteers pivoted during the pandemic

This year’s National Volunteer Week honours the awe-inspiring acts of kindness of volunteers who’ve continued to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Use this image as both the current Page Image and for News listings

​         (Photo taken during BC Transplant's Walks of Life event in 2019)

It's Friday night, and Freddie Marsh would normally be heading out the door to share his story as a living kidney donor to a live audience. But over the past year, Freddie just pulls up his laptop to join a video chat instead.

"I'm thankful to still have the opportunity to spread awareness of organ donation," says Freddie. "Of course, I miss the in-person connections but it still works well to share my story virtually – all from the comfort of my own home!" 

Freddie is one of 180 volunteers at BC Transplant. They range in age from eight to 80, and the longest-serving member has been volunteering for over 20 years.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these volunteers attended community events, organ donor drives, races, walks, markets, schools and workplaces. But the pandemic halted these in-person initiatives - and forced BC Transplant to review its volunteer program. 

"It's been a positive challenge to think of ways to help our volunteers share their organ donation and transplant stories," notes Alicia Di Cesare, Coordinator of Volunteer Initiatives and Community Development. "The volunteers have been really flexible and amazing. They're now doing a lot more virtual speaking engagements and engaged on our social media channels encouraging people to register as organ donors."


Alicia's also quick to point out there have been some upsides to pivoting to online platforms: "Some of our volunteers have been relieved to be able to have an option to still participate while maintaining safety because they're immune compromised. And now they can also share their stories outside their communities and reach a broader audience."

A close cause

Transplant recipients, living donors and donor family members make up the volunteer base. And they all share the same passion: to spread awareness on how transformative organ donation can be.

Freddie's journey started in 2014 when he first found out a good friend was in dire need of a new kidney.

"When I did my research, living donors statistically have a longer life expectancy because they really take care of themselves," says Freddie. "I donated my kidney in 2015 and it hasn't slowed me down at all. The best part was witnessing the huge impact on the quality of my friend's life – it was awesome."

       Freddie 2.jpg

While the pandemic may have curtailed in-person volunteering for now, it hasn't stopped participants like Freddie from pounding the virtual pavement.

SOURCE: Going virtual: How BC Transplant volunteers pivoted during the pandemic ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Transplant. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority