Organ transplant recipients gathered across the province this week to thank hospital staff with sweet treats for their work in supporting organ donation as part of BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn event.
Here in Chilliwack, two double-lung recipients — Cathleen Falebrinza and Dr. Patricia Ackland — helped deliver three large, red boxes filled with caramel popcorn to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff at Chilliwack General Hospital on Wednesday.
Falebrinza had her surgery in November 2016 and Ackland had hers in November 2018. They were both diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis by the same doctor.
“I’ve been doing exceptionally well — life is amazing and I just want to say thank you to everybody for everything you’ve done to promote transplants. I really appreciate it,” Falebrinza said.
“It’s been a rocky year, but it’s getting better and I’m hopeful. She’s my hero,” Ackland said looking at Falebrinza.
Ackland was there with her her son Robert, one of her caregivers.
“All of her grandkids can now finally see her without tubes. They’d never seen that before,” Robert Ackland said of his mother.
Falebrinza is also a volunteer with BC Transplant.
“I’m volunteering to spread the word about how much good organ donation can do and it really does save lives,” Falebrinza said.
Falebrinza is the only RCMP officer in Canada to receive an organ donation and return to work. Before her surgery, she went to work on oxygen.
BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn is an opportunity for those whose lives have been saved by organ donation to deliver festive packages of popcorn to staff in intensive care units, emergency departments and operating rooms (ICUs, EDs and ORs) across the province.