Gord Stromsmoe has a second hand heart, but it is a big one.
This week the 58-year-old heart transplant recipient took part in “Operation Popcorn,” his modest way of saying thank you to the health care professionals in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Campbell River Hospital.
“I got involved to give a little bit back to the BC Transplant Society. It’s my way of saying thanks the people in the local hospital who are involved in the transplant program,” Stromsmoe says.
The former Tahsis sawmill worker moved to Campbell River in the mid-1990s to be close to medical care when he was diagnosed with heart valve disease.
He had his transplant in 1997 and says “I’ve had 15 good years.”
Operation Popcorn is a program run by BC Transplant to acknowledge the difficult, but crucial role British Columbia’s hospital staff play with potential organ donors and their families.
It started 18 years ago because then BC Transplant Director of Retrieval Loretta Kane was determined to find a way to recognize the hospital staff for their contribution to the organ donation process in a way that was fun and inclusive.
Close to Christmas, Loretta and her small team would hire a truck and personally deliver big, colourfully decorated tins of popcorn to the staff in ICUs where staff deal directly with potential donors and their families.
They also delivered to the immunology lab responsible for matching donors with potential recipients, and the provincial lab in charge of all the blood work.
In 1997 Operation Popcorn evolved and transplant recipients like Stromsmoe were recruited to deliver the tins of popcorn.
Over the past 18 years the program has continuously expanded and this year more than 70 tins of popcorn are being delivered to hospitals throughout B.C.