Organ recipient Francine Timbers, (from left to right) OR nurse Melissa Nord, organ recipient Matt Scaife and Larry Zutz with transplant team carry boxes of popcorn at KGH for the annual Operation Popcorn event, Dec. 5. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Popcorn the symbol of thanks at Kelowna General Hospital

The annual Operation Popcorn was held Dec. 5 to give thanks to medical staff for saving lives

Operation Popcorn is celebrating another successful year.

For the last 26 years, organ recipients and the B.C. Transplant Society give doctors, nurses and other staff members across B.C. popcorn in order to say thank you for their work in helping to save lives.

Matt Scaife has participated in the event for the last 17 years. After receiving a new liver in 2000, he is now on the waitlist for another due to his auto-immune disease.

He said Operation Popcorn allows the nurses and staff to see the results of their work, something they don’t often get to experience.

Marilyn Byfield is the captain of this year’s Okanagan transplant support group and is also a volunteer with B.C. Transplant. She had a liver transplant five years ago.

RELATED: Organ recipients say thank you at KGH

Whether it’s the ER, OR, or ICU, every division of staffer that plays a role in the transplant procedure gets a box of popcorn, courtesy of Rocky Mountain Chocolates.

There are about 100 boxes that have been donated across the province, Byfield said.

She said she isn’t sure why popcorn is the symbol of choice.

“It’s giving back and thanking the people that kept us going pre-transplant or afterwards. All transplants are done at VGH, but if you live in Kelowna, you need a lot of things to happen before you get to Vancouver to have a transplant. The Kelowna nursing staff here and other parts of the hospital have looked after our patients so we know each other quite well,” Byfield said.

“Most of the people here have been in and out of the hospital a number of times before they got their transplants.”

RELATED: Saying thanks for a new lease on life

In B.C. in 2016, 651 British Columbians were on the waiting list for organ donations and 21 died while waiting. A total of 423 transplants were performed. Ninety-five per cent of British Columbians say they support organ donation, but only 20 per cent, just more than 1 million people, have registered to be organ donors. For more information about organ donation contact transplant.bc.ca.

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