UNION COUNTY — Political parties are by their very nature primarily focused on politics but that’s not always the case as a local political party recently showed its compassionate side by helping a retired police officer in his efforts to get a kidney transplant.
Santuc native Tommie Hill served as a City of Union police officer from 1976 until his retirement in 2000, rising through the ranks from patrolman to detective. Even after retiring, Hill continued serving as an officer on a part-time basis until he made an unsuccessful bid for Union County Sheriff in 2004. He then resumed his service as a part-time officer until 2006 when he was elected to Union City Council. After eight years on city council, Hill served as a bailiff with the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office until 2016 when he was elected to the Union County Council District 5 seat which he currently holds.
Now, after more than 40 years of serving the community, Hill needs the community’s help to raise the funds he needs to get a kidney transplant.
Hill suffered a heart attack in 2016 and had to undergo triple bypass surgery. To determine what was wrong with his heart, the medical team treating Hill had to use a dye which had a detrimental impact on his kidneys, forcing him to begin dialysis a few months later. While initially having to go to a clinic for three days a week, Hill is now able to undergo dialysis at home, hooking himself up to the machine which sits next to his bed and remaining on it for eight hours while he sleeps.
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. In an interview with The Union Times in June, Hill 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.
In addition to finding a suitable donor, Hill is also having to deal with the challenge of raising the money to pay for a transplant once a donor is found. While his insurance company will pay for most of the cost, Hill said in June that there’s still a $10,000 balance left that he will have to pay for himself and he’s in the process of trying to raise it.
Hill got some help with that recently when the Union County Democratic Party presented him with a check for $500.
Party Chair Ann Stevens-Brown said Friday that the members of the party voted to make the donation during the party’s July meeting and presented it to Hill on Monday, Aug. 27. She said the party wanted to help Hill in honor of his decades of service to the people of Union County.
“It’s a worthy cause,” Stevens-Brown said. “He’s been a leader in the county and done many positive things for the county. Also, he’s a retired police officer who is a long time public servant for the county.”
Hill thanked the Union County Democratic Party for its donation and said that it has helped him raise more than half the amount he needs.
“I checked yesterday and I had $5,900,” Hill said Friday. “I want to thank everyone who has contributed, everyone who is helping me. I highly appreciate it.”
Hill said he was referred to the Carolina Transplant Center in Charlotte for evaluation and will be going there on Sept. 24. Persons interested in being a kidney donor should contact Carolina Transplant Center Transplant Program Assistant Elena Henault at 704-355-3855.
Persons who want to help Hill get the transplant can make donations to the Tommie Hill Kidney Transplant Fund at Arthur State Bank.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.