UNION — A member of Union County Council with a record of public service that includes nearly 30 years in law enforcement is asking for the public’s help in raising the $10,000 he needs to pay for a kidney transplant.
Tommie Hill was born in Santuc on Aug. 30, 1949 to Mrs. Cornelia J. Hill, a single parent who raised him and his eight sibling working, in Hill’s words, “to provide as best as she could for nine children.” The family later moved to Union, first to a residence on McLure Street then to one on Roger Alley and finally to May and Cabin streets, an area known as “Langley Town.”
Hill was educated in the Cornwell, McBeth, and Cohen Street elementary schools and attended Sims High School where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, track and field. He graduated from Sims in 1968 and, for his achievements on the athletic field while at Sims, was inducted into the Union High School Hall of Fame in 2001.
Upon graduation, Hill had the opportunity to attend college on a football scholarship but instead decided to “stay home and help my mother provide for the family.” He would do so by working at Buffalo Mill and Carlisle Finishing before finding his true calling as a police officer.
“During my daily travels, I became more and more aware of my surroundings and my community,” Hill said. “I felt a new calling that would enable me to make a contribution to my community in a positive way. That calling would lead me to become a police officer.
“On September 8, 1976, I was hired by the City of Union as a police officer and in 1977 I attended the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy where I met all the requirements that would certify me as a police officer in the State of South Carolina,” he said. “I consider this one of my great accomplishments that made my mother proud.”
In 1979, Hill would be recognized by the department as Employee of the Month for rescuing a man from a burning mobile home. That same year he also rescued a person from a wrecked burning vehicle.
In the years that followed, Hill would move up the ranks, becoming a corporal in 1988 enabling him to serve as assistant shift supervisor; becoming a sergeant in 1990 which allowed him to serve as a shift supervisor; and being promoted to detective in 1999.
In 2000, Hill retired after 24 years of service as a police officer, but was asked and agreed to continue serving on a part-time basis until 2004 when he launched an unsuccessful bid for Union County Sheriff. He resumed his duties as part-time public safety officer until 2006 when his second bid for public office proved successful, landing him a seat on Union City Council. He would serve two terms on city council, a time of serving the community that he calls “a blessing from God.”
After his second term on city council ended, Hill served as a bailiff with the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office. Then, in 2016, Hill was elected to the Union County Council District 5 seat which he currently holds.
Now, after serving the community as both a member of law enforcement and as an elected official, Hill needs the community’s help as he tries to raise the funds needed for a kidney transplant.
“I had a heart attack in 2016 and I had to have triple bypass surgery,” Hill said about the origin of his condition. “They had to use the dye to determine what was wrong with my heart. They told me the dye might impact my kidneys and it did. About two or three months later it messed up my kidneys and caused me to go on dialysis.”
At first, Hill had to go to a clinic three days a week, but then took classes where he learned how to do it at home using a dialysis machine that sits next to his bed.
“I hook myself up to the machine every night when I go to bed,” Hill said. “I remain on it for about eight hours while I sleep.”
Even as he undergoes dialysis at home, Hill is looking to get a kidney transplant and underwent orientation at the University of Georgia to prepare him for what’s involved. He said he has been told that it would be best if a live donor could be found. His blood type is B and so any donor would have to be the same blood type to be a match. If anyone is interested in being a donor, contact the University of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia at 1-706-721-2888 and speak to Lyn Joyner, RN CCTC, who is coordinating the effort to get Hill a kidney.
While the search for a new kidney is continuing, Hill said that when one is found he will need help to pay for the transplant and he is asking for that help.
“They haven’t found a match for me yet, but they’re looking for one,” Hill said. “My insurance will pay for most of the cost, but there’ll still be a $10,000 balance left.”
To cover that balance, a GoFundMe account has been set up for Hill. Persons who want to help Hill get the transplant can go to the site at gofundme.com and make a donation there. Donations can also be made to the Tommy Hill Kidney Transplant Fund at Arthur State Bank.
Even as he waits for a matching kidney and raises the funds to pay for it, Hill looks back on his life and the mother who raised him, the qualities she helped instill in him, and the faith that has sustained him for strength during this time.
“I didn’t have an easy life, but words of wisdom from my mother, determination, and God guided my path,” Hill said. “I’m going to stay on that path.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.