From left, liver recipients Paul Lee and Joanne Arcardo, and the ICU staff at Ridge Meadows Hospital during Operation Popcorn in 2016. (Contributed)

Liver recipient thanking ICU staff at hospital in Maple Ridge with popcorn

Operation Popcorn takes place from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8 across British Columbia

In 2010 Joanne Arcardo became extremely ill.

At a time when all of her friends were getting married and having children, Arcardo was lying in bed and in and out of the hospital.

Previously, at 21-years-old the Maple Ridge resident had been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or inflammation of the bile ducts and the liver. She was told then that she would have to take one pill a day for the rest of her life and that in the future the incurable disease would lead to a liver transplant.

But, Arcardo said, she was very naive.

“When I was 21 I was like, okay cool, I have to take a pill for the rest of my life, no problem,” said Arcardo, who is now 31.

However, just as she was settling into her career as an accountant, thinking that her life was great and that everything around her was great, she developed another auto-immune disease, irritable bowel disease or colitis.

It was then that her health took a downward spiral.

She was having extreme abdomen pain and irregular bowel movements. And when she was actually diagnosed with the disease that led to the liver failure, she was jaundiced and itchy. She had ascites, where your body fills up with fluid and a lot of pain and fatigue that led to numerous blood transfusions.

Arcardo was put on the list for a new liver. A waiting list that usually takes between one and two years.

For Arcardo, though, a new liver was found within four months. She had the surgery at Vancouver General Hospital when she was 27-years-old.

“When I was eventually told I needed a transplant I was already so sick and so worn out,” she said adding that the diagnosis was also hard for her fianceé who has been by her side for the last 16-years.

“Unfortunately you have to be really, really, really sick to get a transplant,” said Arcardo.

“The fact that I only waited four months is very good in a way that I got it right away. But bad in a way that I was pretty close to dying there,” she continued.

Today Arcardo is very grateful for her life.

On Monday Arcardo and another Maple Ridge resident who also received a liver transplant due to an auto-immune disease, will be paying a visit to the Intensive Care Unit at Ridge Meadows Hospital. They will be expressing their gratitude and the gratitude of transplant recipients across the province for the work that they do making organ donation possible.

“With organ transplants a donor has to be in hospital in ICU on a ventilator. It’s only when two doctors declare a potential donor brain dead then they will contact B.C. Transplant to move forward with organ transplant,” explained Arcardo.

“If it wasn’t for a nurse making that call to say, hey, I could call B.C. Transplant right now, this looks like a potential donor. It really starts with the ICU staff,” she said.

The transplant recipients will be giving the ICU staff at Ridge Meadows Hospital around 30 individually wrapped bags of popcorn from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory packaged in a festive tin.

Operation Popcorn runs from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8 when transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families thank health care professionals on behalf of B.C. Transplant in communities across the province.

This will be Arcardo’s second visit to Ridge Meadows Hospital with Operation Popcorn. The three-year volunteer with B.C. Transplant will also be paying a visit to Royal Columbian Hospital.

“If it wasn’t for medical professionals I wouldn’t be alive today.”

For more information about becoming an organ donor go to transplant.bc.ca.

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

BREAKING: Cloverdale McDonald’s employee tests positive for COVID-19

McDonald’s Canada immediately shut down the restaurant

Southridge students raise $5,600 for hospital meal program

GoFundMe campaign funds two months of meals at Peace Arch Hospital

Surrey kids get cooking during free SuperChefs camps pushed online by pandemic

‘Enthusiastic’ launch of program, which sees ingredient pickup at one local school

Court awards woman $143K for two Whalley rear-ender crashes, one by a bus

In both cases, Brigitte Bergeron’s vehicle was hit from behind while stopped at an intersection

Surrey RCMP searching for missing woman last seen in Crescent Beach

Milcah Kasomali-Chirumbwana last seen at 4:35 p.m. July 5 in the 12300-block of Beecher Street

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Abbotsford school vice-principal accused of getting Instagram ‘confessions’ page shut down

@A.S.S.S.Confessions page claims school officials contacted families to find out person behind page

Recreational chinook openings leave First Nations frustrated on the Lower Fraser

Limited recreational openings for chinook on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers being questioned

Most Read