Loved ones hold Honor Walk for Lowcountry man donating life-saving organ

Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2023 at 11:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Family and friends gathered at MUSC this weekend to remember the life of a young man giving a gift back to his community.

The community is calling 23-year-old Hunter Keith Baum a “young hero,” for contributing to the life-saving procedure of organ donation, on what would have been his 24th birthday.

“It’s an honor to be able to do this for him,” Hunter’s mother, Meredith Baum-Kenyon said. “Because we know he’s going to live on in other people. We know, even though it is horrible what happened to him.”

Close family and friends said Baum suffered from a gunshot wound to the head. He was admitted to MUSC on Aug. 15 and declared brain-dead by doctors shortly after.

He signed on as an organ donor at the age of 15 while sitting beside his mother, filling out papers for his driver’s permit.

“It’s like his heart led him to do the right thing with the organ donation,” Baum-Kenyon said.

With help from We Are Sharing Hope SC, his loved ones planned an Honor Walk to see him off before the life-saving process began.

“This is a moment where families can say their last goodbyes, and it memorializes their loved ones,” We Are Sharing Hope SC Representative Kim Zaruca said.

The community gathered on Friday to make signs and share their favorite memories.

Family and friends walked by Baum’s side on Saturday morning, holding each other and saying their goodbyes.

“Hunter was just a genuine soul,” Baum-Kenyon said. “If he did something for you, it was just because he felt it was the right thing. He was just always laughing and smiling. He was strong, tender-hearted.”

Baum’s generosity will go toward saving seven lives currently waiting for vital organs, according to We Are Sharing Hope SC.

The organization also said out of 104,000 people are waiting for organ transplants in the U.S., more than 1,500 of them come from South Carolina alone.

“There’s over 100,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and 17 people could possibly die everyday waiting for these organs,” Zaruca said.

The walk took place on his 24th birthday.

Baum’s mother says it was important the donation fall on this special day so recipients can celebrate his life for years to come.

“He would’ve lived with them, he would’ve used them,” Baum-Kenyon said. “And that’s the whole thing is, I want them to feel that blessing. I want them to know that that is what Hunter does want.”

His family calls him genuine, brave, humble and generous.

They say they would have not expected anything different from Baum.

“Not only has he always been a blessing to our family, but he’s also being a blessing to other families and I couldn’t be more proud,” Baum-Kenyon said.

For information on organ and tissue donation, click here.