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Khirsty’s 31-year nursing career influenced by her battle with liver disease

“I always say that it felt like I won the lottery the day I was hired to work at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital,” says Khirsty MacArthur.
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​I want my fellow health-care professionals to know that they're amazing. I want to thank the organ donation teams for their compassionate and skilled care in making a difference for our transplant journeys. Because of them, we have hope, health and healing.

You had your liver transplant in 1994 – why did you need one?

Almost 28 years ago, I woke up from my liver transplant surgery. Every day since then, I have felt immense gratitude to my donor and donor family and the choice they made to donate. I was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis as a teenager and after navigating a challenging and deteriorating health, I was given the opportunity to be put on the transplant wait list. I remember that day so vividly when I received the call hearing that there was a liver available – it was overwhelming that someone and their family was giving me a second chance at life.

How has transplant changed your life and how has this impacted your friends and family?

My family and friends held me up before, during and after my transplant. There were days I don't think I would have been able to get though without them. My sister took a year off work and cared for me during my recovery, my friends were my lifeline and a group of nurses that I worked with threw a party for me party to celebrate! Being an organ recipient and receiving the gift of life allowed me the chance to grow more empathetic, aware and joyful. I'm much more present in all the moments now.

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What are some important milestones you've been able to be a part of post-transplant?

Being a transplant recipient has afforded me health that I wouldn't have had otherwise to continue doing the things I love. My career in nursing, traveling, volunteering on the Downtown East Side, pursuing further education, becoming a life coach and mentoring students who are staring their career in health-care.

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Tell us more about your career with PHSA. Why did you choose this profession and what does your job mean to you?

My experience living with chronic liver disease was the greatest influence in me choosing a career in nursing. I have worked as a nurse at BC's Children's and Women's Hospital for 31 years.

It is an immense privilege to care for children, youth and their families and a joy to work alongside the most incredible colleagues anyone could ask for. My nursing path started at the bedside caring for youth, then children with cardiac and respiratory conditions and I moved into leadership with my current role working on the Children's & Women's Learning and Development team.

You're one of our newest volunteers. How do you feel about participating in your first Operation Popcorn event with BC Transplant?

I'm very excited to volunteer with Operation Popcorn and to share my appreciation with all the health-care professionals providing care to organ donors, recipients and their families. Operation Popcorn will hopefully bring awareness and support for organ donation in BC.

Do you have a message you want to share with your donor and donor family?

The message I would give is first and foremost, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the gracious and generous gift of life you gave me.

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