At age 72, some might assume Abbotsford resident Jerry Brown is embracing retirement – however, they’d be wrong. Rather than hitting the golf links, Jerry is happily immersed in his busy financial career while also spending quality time with his wife, his children and his grandchildren, all thanks to the kidney transplant he received 17 years ago.
“Based on the condition I was in going into surgery, I only had three or four months left to live. The organ transplant gave me a second shot at life,” Jerry explains. “It allowed me the opportunity to be with my family for many more years. I’m blessed, without question.”
A passionate advocate for organ donation through BC Transplant, Jerry was surprised when he was asked to speak with customer service representatives at the Service BC centre in Chilliwack. He hadn’t realized that Service BC and BC Transplant are partners in a unique awareness campaign designed to provide Service BC clients with information on organ donation and encourage them to register their decision to become an organ donor on-site or online.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the Service BC office. However, I went away so impressed by the enthusiasm of this group and their commitment to the partnership with BC Transplant,” Jerry says. “The Chilliwack Service BC office is doing an incredible job of sharing information and encouraging people to register their decision.”
During the meeting, Jerry shared his personal experiences as a transplant recipient with Chilliwack Service BC staff who listened intently and asked questions. Customer service representatives Braden Adams and Tara Green were both deeply moved by Jerry’s story.
“It was really eye-opening to meet someone who, prior to receiving a kidney transplant, was basically on his death bed,” says Braden. “Hearing about Jerry’s experience first-hand and realizing how grim it must be for people who are waiting for that phone call for a donor organ that might never come was really powerful.”
Service BC staff were particularly struck by Jerry’s assertion that one organ donor can potentially save up to eight lives.
“His visit was very motivating. It empowered us to realize we are making a difference with individuals in our community,” says Tara. “Prior to meeting Jerry, asking someone to fill out a BC Transplant form didn’t have as much of an impact as it does now. Jerry’s story put a face on the program and gave us something important and personal to reflect on.”
Both Tara and Braden are even more mindful of how many B.C. residents believe they are organ donors, based on their decision to donate many years ago.
“Many of the people we speak with have an old sticker on their care card or their driver’s license that they think makes them an organ donor, says Tara. “We are there to tell them that that is no longer the case. They must re-register with BC Transplant.”
“There is a natural flow where, during the course of our work, we can start this conversation about the organ donation program,” adds Braden. “Because we already deal with personal information, it’s a little easier for us to gain a customer’s trust and initiate those conversations. The partnership between Service BC and BC Transplant is a great one and it works.”
Friendly staff at all 62 Service BC centres in communities throughout the province now provide information on organ donation and help residents register their decision on-site. People with online access can also register at: http://www.transplant.bc.ca/