Mike Bro delivered popcorn to health workers at Cowichan District Hospital for the third year in a row on Dec. 12.
Bro, who lives in the Cowichan Valley where he is raising seven children with his wife Jan, had a heart transplant in Vancouver in 2010 and now participates in the annual Operation Popcorn that takes place during the holidays in hospitals across B.C.
Operation Popcorn, a project initiated by the BC Transplant organization, is an annual tradition where transplant recipients, living donors and donor family members thank hundreds of health professionals across B.C. for the gift of life with gifts of popcorn.
Although his transplant surgery didn’t occur at CDH, Bro has relied on CDH for much of his hospital care since he moved to the Valley from Campbell River seven years ago.
Bro was born with a congenital heart defect and had four open-heart surgeries to try to correct the problem over the years.
Things didn’t go as planned in his last open-heart surgery in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in 2010, and he was left in a coma for two months.
When Bro finally awoke from the coma, he had to spend another five months in hospital recovering and learning to walk and talk again.
He was finally released and put on a heart-transplant list as a high-priority patient.
“Just a month later, I was called and told that a heart was available,” Bro said. “In a very short time, a helicopter landed right in front of my house in a subdivision in Campbell River and whisked me away to St. Paul’s for my surgery.”
Bro said he walked out of the hospital just 10 days after his 14-hour transplant surgery.
He said the experience changed his life so he went back to school and studied to become a community health-care worker and now works in that capacity in the Cowichan Valley.
“Because of everything I went through, I wanted to do something with my life that meant something, and that’s why I decided to work in health care,” Bro said.
“I go back to St. Paul’s for annual check ups, but I’m grateful that I have had no significant health issues since the transplant surgery.”
Bro said he, and several members of his family, participate in Operation Popcorn because it gives them an additional opportunity to say thank you to health-care workers and get the word out to the public about how important organ donations are.
Janet James, site director at CDH, said she thinks Operation Popcorn is greatly appreciated by the staff at the hospital.
“It inspires us to keep up the great work we do every day here,” she said.