Organ donors needed statewide

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Over the last month three young people have lost their lives here in the Lowcountry and have donated their organs to those in need. Twenty-four year-old Brittin Penninger died earlier this week after a car accident last week in Mount Pleasant.  Thirteen year-old Cameron Berry donated his organs after he died from brain injury in a golf cart accident in Dorchester County. Back in September, 15-year-old McKayla Matthews died after being hit by a car on Glenn McConnell Parkway.

But it's not just young organs in dire need in the state right now. Lifepoint, he organization that handles the state's organ donor registry says 90-percent of the people waiting for organs need a kidney. A spokesman says kidneys are in such high demand because of high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Donors and recipients say it truly makes a difference to become a donor.

"He's the donor. He's given me a future I can only imagine for..."  Samajema Davis read from a poem she wrote for the man who gave her a second chance. More than three years ago Davis battled disease that caused kidney failure.

"Worrying about all that and then realizing that you're going to get this transplant, it's just a burden lifted. It just meant my dreams could come true because before I wasn't sure," Davis said.

It was her brother, Coast Guard Commander Quincy Davis, who was a perfect donor match. Now she's healthy, she teaches, she's written a book, and she volunteers to increase donor awareness.

Lifepoint says in South Carolina the list is nearly 1,000 patients, and donors of all ages, sizes, and races are needed.

"We want everyone to consider organ donation because one person can save the lives of up to eight people, and improve the lives of 50 or more through cornea or tissue donation," spokesman Mark Johnson said.

Jennifer Minor received a letter from Lifepoint after her fiance's organs were donated.

"Because of your generosity, a 61 year-old male in Kentucky received the donated liver. This married father has four children," she read from the letter.

Organ donor Michael Hopper passed away in 2009 of complications from diabetes. Minor says it helps knowing your loved one can live on through someone else.

"Even though he was only here a short time, his legacy is still being carried on. For me, that definitely gave a little bit of comfort in a time of grief," Minor said.

South Carolina has a first-person consent registry, meaning an adult makes a choice to be a donor while they are alive, and it's not left up to family members to make the decision.

There are three ways to get yourself on the registry: You can sign up at the DMV, sign up at the website, or give Lifepoint and Donate Life SC a phone call toll free at 1-877-277-4866.

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