B.C. transplant recipient shucking up big time to support organ donation

April is an important month for Matt Thompson. The restaurateur is raising money and awareness for organ donation.

“(We’re going) to donate 25 cents an oyster after 6:00 p.m. for the whole month,” Thompson, who owns Smitty’s Oyster House in Vancouver, told Global’s This is BC.

“We sell a lot of oysters.”

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Two years ago Thompson’s life was saved after receiving a liver transplant. Years of alcoholism had taken its toll leaving him with Stage-4 liver disease.

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“You progressively deteriorate to a point where you can’t walk, and you can’t use your hands. Even mental function goes away,” Thompson added. “You know you’re dying. You’re very aware of it,” he said.

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“I kind of feel like I want to pay it back for my surgery. As long as I live and I’m in business and I can help, I’m going to raise money.”

As the disease progressed, Thompson’s family and friends were desperately waiting for a donor to be identified,  a scenario many British Columbians are facing today.

“My stepfather has become increasingly sick from pulmonary fibrosis and he is now in need of a double lung transplant,” Thompson’s friend and business colleague Jayme Strickland said.

“I hope that we get the same outcome Matt had.”

Click to play video: 'April is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month'

April is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month

Elaine Young with BC Transplant said personal stories like Thompson’s are important.

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“It makes organ donation real for people and that’s when people can really start to think about the type of impact they want to have at the time of their passing and the kind of legacy they want to leave behind,” she said.

With new initiatives planned for the future, this month’s fundraiser is another step Thompson is taking to try and make a difference.

He’s hoping his story serves as a reminder of the importance of organ donor registration.

“It saves people, it saves children, it saves families,” Thompson said.

“It’s amazing research that helps move forward organ donations so that people live. It’s incredible.”

You can find out more about registering as an organ donor at the BC Transplant website.

To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca

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