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Organ recipients spreading cheer

Langley Memorial Hospital OR nurse Manny Dela Cruz hugs double lung transplant recipient Darvy Culleton after a group of organ transplant recipient including Don Campbell, left, and organ donor Todd Reid, brought popcorn for doctors and nurses.  - Monique Tamminga/Langley Times
Langley Memorial Hospital OR nurse Manny Dela Cruz hugs double lung transplant recipient Darvy Culleton after a group of organ transplant recipient including Don Campbell, left, and organ donor Todd Reid, brought popcorn for doctors and nurses.
— image credit: Monique Tamminga/Langley Times

Three organ transplant recipients and one organ donor hand-delivered some Christmas cheer in the form of big tins of popcorn to Langley Memorial Hospital’s physicians and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit and operating room last week (Dec. 17).

“We try to go to as many hospitals as we can this time of year,” said heart transplant recipient Kristy Coldwell.

“They may lose a patient here and those persons organs may save a life somewhere else. We want to acknowledge the work they do.”

The 30-year-old Cloverdale woman received her new heart at the age of 17 after having congenital heart failure and three surgeries to keep her alive.

“I’m getting married in June, I’m working.

“There’s a lot of rejection medication we have to take but we aren’t complaining. It’s amazing to have the 12 years I’ve had.” Coldwell was team captain for “Operation Popcorn.”

The group said it’s important to let the doctors and nurses see the “living results” of all their hard work.

“A group like this shows them the work they do saves lives. At LMH, they deal with the tragic side of the story because the transplants take place at Vancouver General,” said BC Transplant’s Megan Williams.

“But you never know where a potential donor can come from.”

This year marks the most transplants B.C. has ever seen, at just over 300.

When they made up the cards last week for the popcorn, it read 287. That’s how many more transplants have taken place in such a short time.

For double lung transplant recipient Darvy Culleton, 35, this time of year is extra special, but not because it’s Christmas.

“I had my transplant, Dec. 19, 2006,” said the Coquitlam resident. He was born with cystic fibrosis.

“Now he is breathing better and enjoying life.

Don Campbell, 46, is on his third kidney transplant, but this one has “worked the best,” he said.

He has participated in Operation Popcorn six times because he feels it is that important to let doctors know the important work they do.

Todd Reid, 36, gave his kidney to his best friend of 20 years on July 6, 2010.

“He was dying. It was a no brainer. I’d do it again. Ten people were tested and I was a match,” he said.

Reid lost his mom the year prior to him donating his kidney. She died waiting for a liver, he said.

To register to be an organ donor or to find out more go to transplant.bc.ca or go to the Facebook page.

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