Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist
April 29, 2014
Today’s Notes features two important events and one notable personality. The honorable Nancy Kay, president/CEO of LifePoint, the designated Procurement Organization in South Carolina, is our guest. She has a powerful story to tell that in today’s medical technology, miracles happen every day. Gift of Life is responsible. Two notable 2014 occasions are announced. April marks the 11th annual National Donate Life Month and the 30th year of LifePoint is celebrated.
Nancy Kay founded LifePoint 30 years ago as the S.C. Organ Procurement Agency (SCOPA) with just herself and a couple others. It has grown over the past 30 years and now recovers not only organs, but also eyes and tissues for transplantation. SCOPA is now Life Point and approximately 100 employees across the state. The LifePoint staff under the leadership of Nancy has saved more than 5,000 lives through organ donation and improved the lives of many thousands of others through tissue and eye donation.
Establishing the South Carolina Donor Registry was a mission of Nancy’s and with the help of Donate Life SC, the registry was launched in December 2008. It is now a lifesaving tool in the state that has over 1.3 million people signed up to give the gift of life.
April is designated as National Donate Life Month by the United States Department of Health and Human Service and Donate Life America. LifePoint and Donate Life South Carolina have partnered to increase awareness about the great need for more organ, eye and tissue donors in South Carolina and the nation.
Currently, over 121,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list and approximately 1000 of them are on the South Carolina waiting list. Because the great need for more organ and tissue donors continues to grow, April is designated as National Donate Life Month by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Transplantation. LifePoint and Donate Life South Carolina join other organ and tissue transplantation organizations across the country in recognizing this important designation.
On average, 150 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day—one every 10 minutes. Without more donors, many on the waiting list will die waiting. In fact, an average of 18 people in the U.S. die each day because of the shortage of life-saving organs. It is hoped that the designation of April as Donate Life Month will call attention to the need for more organ/tissue donors in South Carolina as well as inform the public about the South Carolina Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.
“We urge all South Carolinians who wish to help save lives through donation to take a moment to verify they are a registered donor. Prior to December 2008, the state did not have a donor registry.” Before December 2008, a heart symbol was placed on South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle (SCDMV) driver’s licenses and other SCDMV credentials if someone indicated a wish to become a donor. Now there is a new symbol to indicate one’s legal consent to become a donor when registering through the SCDMV. It is a heart and “Y” surrounded by a circle.
Individuals can also register by visiting DonateLifeSC.org. Then, when going to the SCDMV the next time, the new symbol will be placed on one’s license or other credential if one again checks “yes” to donation on the SCDMV form.
In South Carolina 104 people became organ donors at their deaths during 2013 and helped save over 350 lives. Nationally, over 28,000 people began new lives last year thanks to organ transplants. Over 46,000 patients had their sight restored through cornea transplants and over 1 million tissue transplants were performed during 2013. In South Carolina there were also 342 tissue donors and 428 ocular (eye) donations. These donations save or improve the lives of South Carolinians and people across the country.
For more information about, Donate Life Month, or to set up an interview with someone who has been touched by donation or transplantation,contact Mark Johnson, Media Relations Coordinator for Donate Life South Carolina and LifePoint at 864-363-6305.