Tony Duke and his wife Beth Campbell Duke wait for news of a donor.Tony needs a double lung transplant.

Tony Duke and his wife Beth Campbell Duke wait for news of a donor.Tony needs a double lung transplant.

Waiting for a gift from a stranger

Comox Valley man an organ donation away from being able to breathe normally

  • Apr. 6, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

Tony Duke sits, and waits. He has no choice.

With only 13 per cent of his lung functionality remaining, he can do little else.

Tony is one of the more than 500 British Columbians on the transplant list. The Buckley Bay resident needs a double lung transplant.

He was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis nearly 25 years ago. It manifested into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease roughly 10 years later.

“It began to have a serious effect … about 15 years ago,” Tony said, pausing to grasp more air halfway through the sentence.

“Up until then… It was just my lifestyle … getting old.”

Now he just wants to have a chance to get old. Tony is 60. Without a transplant, he has perhaps 18 months to live – that is, as long as no other complications develop.

“Bronchitis, if I were to catch it, would be extremely deadly … as would pneumonia,” he said, again, over a couple of breaths.

“After six months of assessment, Tony was actively listed at the beginning of February. And now we wait,” said Tony’s wife, Beth Campbell Duke. “Aside from his lungs, he is perfectly healthy.”

“I just want to get on with the last 30 years of my life,” said Tony, coughing and wheezing.

April Is Organ Donor Awareness Month

The  Comox Valley has its share of potential recipients who are waiting to receive their phone call. Roughly 10 per cent of the people on the transplant wait list live on Vancouver Island.

And there are plenty of success stories here as well – many of which have been documented in the Comox Valley Record.

There are currently more than 4,000 people alive today in B.C., thanks to transplants – 700 of them on Vancouver Island alone.

But the wait list continues to grow, at a higher rate than the registered donor list.

As BC Transplant continues to have record-breaking years with organ transplants, the need for organ donors increases.

“It really is amazing how much organ transplantation is growing in B.C., across Canada and world-wide,” said Beth. “There are a few ways that the number of donated organs can increase and the one that each and every one of us has control over is to make sure that we’ve registered our decision with BC Transplant.”

The statistics are puzzling. Currently in B.C., more than 95 per cent of people agree with organ donation, yet less than 30 per cent have registered their decision.

“We just found out that you are five to six times more likely to need a transplant than to ever be a donor, even if you register,” said Beth.

April is Organ Donor Awareness Month. Campaigns are going on throughout the province to increase awareness and, ultimately, increase organ registration.

Help Tony and Beth

While Tony waits for his life-saving phone call, Beth is busy fundraising for what she knows will be an expensive process; one which will require her to be in Vancouver with Tony for a minimum of three months, post-transplant.

“He needs to be in the hospital twice weekly, 7:30 in the morning for blood tests, and then other days, for physio,” said Beth. “Your medical expenses are covered, but your non-medical expenses are not, and those can be crippling.

“Every transplant recipient has to have a support person sign a form saying they understand they have to be there throughout the (recovery) process in Vancouver. We are actually the fortunate among the unfortunate, because we can stay here (in Buckley Bay), right until the transplant. There are people who live father away … who would have to move (to Vancouver). The government provides $600 per month, for rent, but we know what that gets you in Vancouver.”

You can help #EliminateTheWait and support Tony Duke’s lung transplant at his Organ Donor Registration and Bottle Drive event on April 23 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Courtenay Recycle-It Depot on Puntledge Road.

If you can’t make the event, you can donate to account #399 and find organ donor registry links on their website

Recipient gives back

Amanda Poch has the best-ever reason for being an organ donation advocate. She was a recipient 10 years ago.

Poch had been battling an autoimmune condition that was destroying her liver. She was rushed to hospital March 18, 2006, extremely ill.

Eleven days after being admitted to hospital, Poch was near death.

The only reason she is alive to tell the story today is because someone had registered as an organ donor.

It was estimated she had less than eight hours left to live, when a donor came through for her.

“I said to my fiancée ‘I’m thinking for my 10-year (anniversary) I may want to do something big’ and mentioned the tour to her and she thought it was a good idea. I kind of thought it would be a small, humble event, but it’s turned out to be quite a bit more than I expected it to (be), with the partnership of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

Poch started the Live Then Give tour (; a province-wide organ donor awareness tour. Her goal is to get 10,000 new donor registrants this year.

“I will have all the forms available for people to register, right there, or they can take the forms home. I also have all the information if they want to sign up online as well. All that can be done at my caravan, which will be at various locations throughout the province.”

Poch had her tour on the south part of the Island last month and will be bringing her  Live Then Give caravan to the north Island during the summer months.

“It will be sometime in June. My dates are still being worked on.”

Poch said there are a few misconceptions about organ donation, which is one reason for her tour – to clarify some of the bad information out there.

“Some of the biggest objections I get are, ‘I’m too old; you don’t want my organs anyways, because they are too used,” said Poch. “Well, my donor was 72 years old. I received it at the age of 26. I am fine. So that is a huge point to get across. And the oldest donor on record is 93 years old.

“I also hear ‘I have this wrong with me,’ or ‘I’m sick,’ or ‘I can’t give blood.’ Well the process of giving blood is much different than giving organs. Your organs are assessed at the time (of donation). You may not be able to donate all your organs, but you still have the opportunity to give some.”

The online process for donor registration takes approximately four minutes. The only form of ID needed is your BC Personal Health (CareCard) number. Go to to complete your registration today.


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

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most categories of crime held steady from year to year in Cumberland. File photo
Cumberland crime numbers hold steady year to year

A few categories had notable changes but many were similar to 2019

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read