(Contributed) Transplant recipients in the black t-shirts, from left, Joanna Arcardo a liver recipient, Darcy Murdoch a double-lung recipient, and Susan Harrison another liver recipient, handing out popcorn in the ICU at Ridge Meadows Hospital on Monday.

Transplant recipients say thanks with popcorn at Ridge Meadows Hospital

B.C. Transplant Society representatives visited the ER, OR and ICU

Susan Harrison learned shortly after her 40th birthday that she would one day need a new liver.

Harrison had just been diagnosed with an auto-immune liver disease.

“Just a fluky thing that affects mostly women, it’s a rare disease. It just came right out of the blue,” said the busy, working mother of two girls.

Before her diagnosis, Harrison had felt itchy all over her body and tired all the time. Her doctor ordered blood tests and called her the next day to tell her something was wrong.

“It was such a huge shock to my husband and I. I’d always been completely healthy. I was a runner, just never really did anything bad to my body,” said Harrison.

Harrison had to stop working right after her diagnosis and she had to stop running, as well.

Her disease progressed slowly over a seven-year period and her doctor told her that once she had about one year left to live, they would put her on the transplant list, which they thought was a big enough window to find a new liver.

However, Harrison’s body just crashed.

“Once my liver numbers reached when they thought I had a year, they just kept climbing and, in the end, I was on life-support when I received this gift. They really didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Harrison, who was preparing herself to say goodbye to her daughters and husband.

Then, at the last minute, a donor was found that was her same blood type.

But doctors told her family they would have to call someone else in to receive the liver unless they could stabilize her.

Doctors did and that was 17 years ago.

“So I am so lucky. It was my dream to run again,” said Harrison, who ran in the Transplant Games at UBC this past summer and won a medal.

Around three or four years ago, her donor’s parents reached out to her and they have been writing each other letters since.

They sent her a photograph of her donor, who had died in a tragic accident at the age of 40.

The donor’s mother asked a good friend to attend the games to cheer Harrison on.

“It was just an indescribable experience to meet this beautiful friend of his,” said Harrison.

“I had just finished my race. It was five minutes after the finish line and I was wearing the medal. I took the medal off and gave it to her and said please pass this on to his wife,” she explained, saying how grateful she was to be able to thank her in such a way.

“It meant the world to me,” said Harrison.

On Monday, Harrison, along with fellow transplant recipients Darcy Murdoch, who received a double-lung transplant, and Joanna Arcardo, who also received a liver, paid a visit to Ridge Meadows Hospital on behalf of the B.C. Transplant Society to say thanks to staff in the emergency room, operating room and the intensive care units at the hospital for the work that they do.

The trio handed out individually wrapped popcorn bundles from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to staff in the emergency and operating rooms and the intensive care unit at the hospital during an event called Operation Popcorn, held at hospitals across the province.

“First of all, they take care of us in ER, in OR, in ICU and they keep us alive. Nobody gets this gift unless they are dying. The nurses and doctors, they keep us alive,” said Harrison.

“But not only that, more importantly, what they do is they take good care of our donors and they recognize potential donors and they are the first contact families have to consider donation,” she added.

Harrison’s gift was not only life, but she was able to finish raising her daughters, who are 33 and 39 now.

She has been married to her husband for 45 years and they have six grandchildren.

“So having that opportunity to walk through their doors healthy and strong and say thank you to them for what they did, it’s just incredible,” Harrison said.

“It’s just a small token,” added Harrison of the popcorn.

“It really is just a symbol of our thanks because how can we really thank them, except maybe by showing them what they have done for us.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge students set to recieve new $125,000 playground

Funding is part of province’s Playground Equipment Program

VIDEO: fire destroys Pitt Meadows outbuilding

Three RVs are write-offs following Saturday night blaze

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Mission poker player missing in Nevada is found alive and safe

Brad Booth went missing in July 13, found in mid September

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Most Read