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Families of organ donors give thanks to frontline hospital staff

BC Transplant volunteers delivered popcorn Tuesday to healthcare workers at University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George
Jodi Ware, centre, lost her son Taylor, 17, in 2019 and donated his organs through BC Transplant. On the left is Taylor's sister Emma, and grandmother Anita Vallee. They were at the hospital Tuesday to give frontline healthcare workers treats during BC Transplant's Operation Popcorn.

Jodi Ware lost her son Taylor, 17, on March 16, 2019, after he was in a car accident.

When it became apparent he was not going to recover from his brain stem injury, the conversation with family turned to organ donation.

“He was a Marvel fan – he’s always loved heroes and this was the way he could be a hero,” Emma Berle, 18, said about her beloved big brother and the decision to donate his organs.

Taylor’s kidneys and liver were donated to three people, a life-changing event for not only Taylor's family but the recipients, too.

The experience of seeing how organ donation can change someone’s life inspired mom, Jodi, to volunteer for BC Transplant.

“This is a club that no one ever talks about,” Jodi said. “And once you’re part of the club you meet other families that have gone through similar things and that’s a bond that allows us to really connect. Somehow that makes it easier.”

Jodi and her family were able to meet Rick and Noreen Woodford, parents of organ donor, Matthew, 34, who was lost in a 2018 fire due to smoke inhalation.

Jodi and Taylor’s sister Emma and his grandmother Anita Vallee met the Woodfords at University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George during BC Transplant’s Operation Popcorn Tuesday morning where they could all show their appreciation to healthcare professionals by bringing big red boxes filled with popcorn to workers ahead of the holiday season.

“I’m excited to be here today and give thanks for the work they do,” Jodi said.

Emma Van Vliet, a social worker at UHNBC, said she appreciates the recognition.

“I think the really special thing today is to see the other side of things,” Van Vliet said. “We often don’t get a lot of closure in the work we do here, especially with transplant and how that impacts family so it’s really nice to see how things have gone on the other side. Mostly we see people in the midst of their stress and so much emotional turmoil and it’s really nice to be able to see people after that and talk to people to see what their experience was and how the work that we do here impacts them. It’s a really great feeling to be appreciated for that."