He also has a special message this holiday season for the health-care teams that saved his life: "Thank you to all the amazing health professionals who are involved with donors and their families. I wouldn't be here, living life to the fullest if it wasn't for them. They make a difference and give back life to so many fortunate transplant recipients."
You are a two-time liver recipient. Can you tell us more?
I am 60 years old and a double liver transplant recipient from Kelowna. I had my first transplant at 27 as a result of an auto-immune disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis which was aggressively scarring up my liver and ducting. My most recent transplant happened in 2020 and I'm relieved to say I have had an amazingly fast recovery and have had wonderful positive changes to how I feel. I had forgotten how quickly things improve after transplant. Both of my transplant recoveries were nothing short of amazing.
What was it like to receive a liver transplant during the pandemic?
Being called in for my second transplant in October 2020 had me rather concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic in full outbreak in the Vancouver area. However, with the help of the health-care professionals who were caring for me, I was quite confident that I could and ultimately would be quite safe. Also the immense support of my daughter Sera and my partner Candace had a huge impact on my comfort level both in VGH and out in the community while recovering.
What are some important milestones you've been able to be a part of post-transplant?
I've been very fortunate over the past 21 years since my first transplant to have some amazing and extraordinary things happen that would not have, if it wasn't for my transplants. The most amazing event since my first was being able to walk my daughter Sera down the aisle to get married in 2012. Since then, two other equally amazing events were attending the births of my two wonderful grandchildren, Grayson in 2014 and Quinn in 2016.
How long have you been a volunteer ambassador with BC Transplant?
I've been a volunteer with BC Transplant and their annual Operation Popcorn since the fall of 2001. I've also been involved in the Kelowna area with a group of recipients and donor families to help spread the organ donation message. I've been so well cared for in my lifetime by the medical community that I was looking for some way to give back and let them know how much I appreciate their work. Operation Popcorn is one amazing way to do that.
I've also been involved as a "volunteer patient" with both the medical and nursing programs around the province working with multiple university programs for over 10 years. I want those entering the medical field to know how important organ donation is in people's lives.
Do you have a favorite memory from your annual Operation Popcorn deliveries?
Each year, I love to see the faces of the health professionals we share our stories with. I remember the first year of Operation Popcorn quite well. I recognized a nurse who had cared for me in Emergency during a cholangitis attack pre-transplant. I was quite jaundiced at the time and not doing well. When she saw me post-transplant, she was astonished at the huge changes in me. She even took a close look at my eyes to see the lack of yellowing in them from jaundice. I've actually had more than one health-care professional examine my eyes like that the first few years of delivering popcorn. Being able to thank them in person and having them see me so healthy is not something they get to experience every day.
What is your outlook on life now post-transplant?
Since my first transplant, I've changed how I look at adventures or even life in general. When it came to adventures in the past I frequently said, "I'd love to try that some day." Now I do those things. Today is "some day". I now believe every day is a good day, no matter what.