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COLUMN: Selfless decision from Qualicum Beach councillor sets quite an example

‘Just instantly, I knew it was the right thing to do’
Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Harrison. (PQB News file photo)

“Just instantly, I knew it was the right thing to do.” — Scott Harrison

The right thing to do, in this case, is one now familiar to most PQB News readers.

Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Harrison, having seen a story about Qualicum Beach First Nation Chief Michael Recalma requiring a kidney transplant, found he was a suitable donor and made the decision to help out.

The surgery was performed on Feb. 28 and by all accounts, both are recovery nicely.

Harrison recently visited our studio to do a podcast (we hope to have Chief Recalma on as well, when he returns).

You can find a transcription of the chat in this very issue (starting on Page A5) but I highly recommend taking the time to listen and gain some added nuance.

I was genuinely taken by how matter-of-fact Harrison was with the whole process.

It was simply the right thing to do, and something he therefore had to do.

Would you do the same?

I have loved ones and, if it came down to it, I’d give anything I have for them.

But how often have we seen or heard of someone outside of our inner circle needing a kidney and quickly acted to find out how we could help?

It’s just such a selfless, amazing decision. Harrison’s not doing it for notoriety, he is willingly giving up an organ to help save another person.

RELATED: PODCAST: Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Harrison discusses donating a kidney

“Michael Recalma does amazing things for the community, he’s a wonderful man and felt like it was the right thing to do,” said Harrison.

He chuckled a little as he recounted his mother’s reaction to the decision.

“My mother was perhaps a little bit concerned, but that’s moms for you.”

Concerned, certainly. Proud? You bet.

This comment also resonated: “I think given some of the history we have, being in the position I’m in now, making that decision for me is a way of actually trying to live to your principles.”

There is so much toxicity in the world these days – especially online – that we often forget the intrinsic good in people.

It’s nice to be reminded of that.

“This is going to shorten my lifespan a little bit, just a little, but it does actually take away your life expectancy a little bit. At the end of the day, the benefits for Michael, he’s had health issues that have cleared up immediately after the donation,” said Harrison. “Just instantly, I knew it was the right thing to do. In the back of your head, you have a few concerns, but just carry on.”

While admitting some pre-surgery nervousness, Harrison’s courage nonetheless ruled the day.

“You’re a bit nervous, but I think the importance of following through with this is much larger than the fear of things going awry. They have an excellent team. At this point in time the surgery is pretty routine. You know, you’re in good hands. You know, it’s something you have to do at the end of the day. It’s something you believe in. So you do it. Occasionally you’d have a little bit of concern, but that’s only natural. There are moments, but you get through that pretty quickly.”

I’m not sure I’d ever consider surgery to donate a kidney “pretty routine” but that again goes back to Harrison’s demeanor through the process.

Harrison said Recalma remains in Vancouver post-surgery but they hope to have a “semi-official” get-together in the summertime.

The councillor also showed some remarkable recovery skills, returning to work just a couple of weeks later.

He again downplayed his own feelings, pointing instead to what’s happening in the Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

“So, looking at what’s happening there and then saying, ‘I feel some mild discomfort, so I’m not going to show up for work.’ It’s hard to sort of look yourself in the eye and say, ‘oh, it’s not good enough.’

Right back to the task at hand, even if he admitted he might have pushed himself a little to hard. He joked he won’t be signing any UFC contracts or suiting up for the Vancouver Canucks anytime soon, but otherwise brushed aside any effects the surgery might have on his life.

Just doing the right thing remained paramount.

“I’ve had several people say ‘this is something I wish I could have done,’” Harrison said.

“And I do think that deep down people understand what’s right, what’s decent, what’s good and what’s compassionate. And hopefully it just gives a few people a little bit of a nudge to find something they can do. It doesn’t have to be like this, doesn’t have to be the same thing, but something they can do to be a positive influence in the community.”

Inspiring words, to be sure.

» PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at; by phone at 250-905-0029 or on Twitter @philipwolf13.

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Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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