Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Riley and Samuel, Jennifer Carroll’s sons, help deliver popcorn to a medical department that was involved in a transplant in a previous year. Operation Popcorn is BC Transplant’s way of saying thank you to medical staff for their role in ilfesaving transplants. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

One family’s decision gives three people the ultimate gift on Christmas Day

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving

Jennifer Carroll of Port Alberni has a special reason to reflect on the spirit of giving each holiday season. Her mother, Allison Sears, gave the gift of life as an organ donor on Christmas Day 2015.

Carroll is sharing her story as part of BC Transplant’s 29th annual Operation Popcorn campaign.

In the past Operation Popcorn has seen organ donor recipients, family members of organ donors and representatives from BC Transplant deliver festive boxes of popcorn to staff in hospital intensive care units, operating rooms and emergency departments that have been involved in a transplant in some way. Carroll and her sons, Riley and Samuel, have participated in the past.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic, deliveries happened directly or popcorn was dropped off by BC Transplant staff members.

Popcorn was delivered this year to seven hospitals on Vancouver Island, including Tofino General Hospital. Others were North Island Hospital Campbell River and District; North Island Hospital Comox Valley; Cowichan District Hospital; Nanaimo Regional General Hospital; Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospital.

Allison Sears was an optician living on Gabriola Island when she suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage on Dec. 24, 2015.

Carroll, her brother and father all knew Allison was registered as an organ donor, so when the time came, the decision to donate her organs was easy. Three people received life-saving organ transplants, and one person received Sears’ corneas.

“So much of what made those raw early days after my mom died easier was holding those three families in my hearts,” Carroll said.

“It’s Christmas and everything is so horrible, but imagine someone else is going to get that call on Christmas Day,” she said was the thought running through her mind.

“My mother was selfless in life and death,” she said. “Losing my mother broke my heart but I have found so much happiness and a sense of peace as a result of her being an organ donor. Her generous gifts mean other families are still sharing beautiful moments here on earth.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have altered Operation Popcorn this year, but the need for organ donors has not decreased. There are currently 750 people in B.C. waiting for transplants.

There is one message Carroll said people always miss when she tells her story. “People are under the misconception that (doctors) don’t work hard to save your life if you’re an organ donor. It’s so not true. Your life matters just as much and they’re still working hard.

“With my mom, she almost had no brain activity. We couldn’t have done anything differently for her.”

When the family brought up the fact Allison had signed an organ donor card, “a completely different team stepped in.

“They took such good care of us, and they took such good care of my mom too.”

Carroll said it has been enough years now that she would like to meet the people who received organs from her mother, if they are willing. Rules have changed in British Columbia in the past few years to allow recipients and donor families to meet.

“From what I’ve been told, everyone is doing amazing. I try to make peace to know they’re out there in the world and that would be enough. But we don’t get over losing our parents.”

To learn more about organ donation and to register to be an organ donor, go online to www.transplant.bc.ca.

Island HealthPORT ALBERNIVancouver Island Health Authority

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Jennifer Carroll, right, with her mother, Allison Sears, on Carroll’s wedding day. Sears died of a brain hemorrhage, but was able to donate organs to save three lives on Christmas Day five years ago. (DANIEL MA/ d’Soleil Photography)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Samuel, left, in green T-shirt and his brother Riley Carroll help deliver popcorn to a medical department that had a role in a transplant during BC Transplant’s annual Operation Popcorn. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Jennifer Carroll, right, of Port Alberni and her mother, Allison Sears, who died suddenly five years ago, but not before helping to save three lives and give another the gift of sight. (PHOTO COURTESY JENNIFER CARROLL)

Just Posted

The Oliver Municipal Aiport runway will be extended in spring 2021. (Oliver Municipal Airport / Facebook)
Oliver airport runway to be extended

The extension will be funded through a provincial grant

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Wrong Turn Tavern in Keremeos is for sale. (Facebook)
Popular Keremeos tavern up for sale

Owner Liza Sanders is selling The Wrong Turn Tavern for $800,000

Walter Makepeace was shocked to find two of his beehives were missing from his Keremeos acreage Feb. 20, 2020. (Contributed)
Allegedly stolen beehives create buzz in Keremeos

Walter Makepeace was shocked to see two beehives had gone missing from his property

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Kamloops-Thompson school district drafts new dress code policy after students sent home

The new policy is being created after a NorKam secondary student was sent home because of what she was wearing

Most Read