UNION — If you are an organ donor in South Carolina, does your driver’s license have an “Old Heart” or a “New Heart” on it?
On Friday, Jan 21, the Union County Healthcare Foundation held a “Donation Duel” pitting USC Gamecocks against Clemson Tigers to see which side could sign up the most organ donors. The Gamecocks won with 19 organ donors signed up to 13 for the Tigers. Since one organ donor can potentially save nine people’s lives, the 32 Gamecocks and Tigers who signed up Friday could potentially save as many as 288 lives.
In discussing the Donation Duel and its results, Foundation Director Greta Bailey also spoke about the importance of organ donors in Union County getting the right kind of heart on their driver’s license.
Bailey pointed to a “Facts About Donation” information sheet published by “Donate Life South Carolina,” a non-profit mandated by state law to maintain the South Carolina Donor Registry, which discusses why organ donors need to have the right kind of heart on their driver’s licenses.
According to Donate Life South Carolina, until the South Carolina Donor Registry was launched on Dec. 23, 2008 “approximately 1.2 million South Carolinians had the red heart symbol on their driver’s licenses/IDs. This represented 34% of residents with driver’s licenses/IDs. The original heart with a ‘Y’ was only a symbol of an individual’s desire to become a donor, but was not a registry. No one could be transferred into the newly created registry. The challenge is to reach the people who believe they are in a registry in addition to those who have never considered donation in the past.”
Now, however, persons who want to become organ donors can have a new heart logo placed on their driver’s license/ID which not only signifies that they are organ donors but they have also been placed on the SC Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.
The information sheet states that when they obtain or renew or change their driver’s license/ID “a new logo representing legal consent will be placed on an individual’s license/ID. It is a heart and ‘Y’ surrounded by a circle with 11 ‘ticks’ in it. This represents the fact that nationally every 11 minutes another person is added to the transplant waiting list.
Currently, there are approximately 123,000 people in the United States of America “waiting for a life-saving transplant,” a number that includes 900 people in South Carolina.
Even though another person is added to the transplant waiting list every 11 minutes, another person dies every 22 minutes waiting for that life-saving transplant that never comes.
According to Donate Life South Carolina, the need for organ donors “has never been greater. This situation is due in part to the fact that many healthy people who die suddenly in a tragic accident that leads to brain death and who could donate their organs to save others’ live simply don’t become donors.”
What Can Be Donated
Up to 25 different organs and tissues can be donated including the following:
• Heart Valves
Who can donate?
Practically anyone can, that’s who.
According to Donate Life South Carolina, organ donors “may range in age from full-term newborns through adults. Living a healthy lifestyle helps ensure that a person can be a suitable donor. Nevertheless, many of today’s donors have pre-existing medical conditions that do not rule them out as a potential donor.”
The information sheet states that the “United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the nation’s transplant centers manage the waiting list. The list includes each potential recipient’s weight, height, and blood type. Priority depends on many factors including urgency of need, length of time on the waiting list, blood type, and size compatibility. Race, gender, age, income and celebrity status are not considered when organs are allocated.”
One of the groups most in need of transplants are African-Americans, and this is especially true in the case of African-American South Carolinians, especially where kidney transplants are concerned.
According to the information sheet, “South Carolina ranks second in the United States in the need for kidney transplants among African-Americans. Kidney failure is four times more likely to affect African-Americans that Whites. High blood pressure and diabetes (sugar) increase the risk of kidney failure.”
The sheet further states that “thousands of African-Americans also need other life-saving organs and tissues like hearts, livers, and lungs. Many of them will die while waiting because there is a critical shortage of donors in the United States.”
It further states that “most people who need transplants must depend on non-related donors to make these gifts. Even though it is possible for an African-American to match a donor from any racial or ethnic group, the best match will be an African-American.”
How To Become A Donor
The information sheet asks the public to “help solve the critical shortage of organs and tissues needed for transplants” by registering their “legal consent on the South Carolina Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Register now to become a donor following your death by selecting the most convenient registration method.”
Those methods include registering at
• Donate Life South Carolina (www.donatelifesc.org)
• SCDMVonline.com or any SCDMV office when obtaining, renewing or changing your driver’s licenes/ID information.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.