New campaign pushes for more SC organ, tissue donors - FOX Carolina 21

New campaign pushes for more SC organ, tissue donors

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New campaign promotes organ/tissue donations. (Jan. 8, 2014/FOX Carolina) New campaign promotes organ/tissue donations. (Jan. 8, 2014/FOX Carolina)
23-year-old Nicholas Romano was an organ/tissue donor (Courtesy: Romano family, Jan. 8, 2014 ) 23-year-old Nicholas Romano was an organ/tissue donor (Courtesy: Romano family, Jan. 8, 2014 )
SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Katie Burden's children kept her busy as they pulled out Christmas toys in their playroom at their Simpsonville home. She said family is most important and that's why August 2008 still hurts.

"It was just that horrible sickening feeling," Burden said.

She recalls getting a phone call from her father about her brother, Nicholas Romano, who they called "Nick."

"He said that he had been in a motorcycle accident," Burden said.

The former marine who survived three tours in Iraq and loved music laid in a hospital bed on a ventilator - brain dead.

"They told us when we got there that more than likely he wasn't going to make it," Burden said.

Romano was an organ and tissue donor, a decision he made prior to his death.

"We know that he saved the lives of five people and then he enhanced and improved the lives of countless others from tissue and eye donation," Burden said.

And now, Gov. Nikki Haley along with administrators with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the organization Donate Life South Carolina are promoting a new campaign to encourage others to become donors too. They kicked-off the campaign Wednesday in Columbia.

"Every Friday from here on out, the DMV employees will be wearing this shirt like I'm wearing it has donate on the shoulder," Mark Johnson, said.

Johnson is a spokesperson and media relations coordinator with Donate Life South Carolina. He said he hopes the shirt will bring awareness and knowledge for DMV employees and those who want to sign up and register to become donors.

"One person can save the lives of up to eight people and improve the lives of 50, possibly even more through tissue donation," Johnson said.

He said it's also important for grieving family members to know the wishes of their loved ones.

"So, the first time they hear about that is not at the time of death, but if it is at least they have information," Johnson said.

He said potential donors can indicate what kind of donor they would like to be and can also remove their names from the donation registry if they change their minds.

It's just one of the many reasons Burden said she's so proud of her brother.

"It's nice knowing that even though we lost him, that other people's lives were saved," she said.

More on organ, issue donation in SC

Nearly 90 percent of those on the South Carolina Transplant Waiting List are in need of a kidney.

In South Carolina, 103 people became organ donors at their deaths during 2012 and helped save more than 300 lives in the state and across the nation.

In South Carolina there were also 361 tissue donors and 444 ocular (eye) donations in 2012.

South Carolina did not have an Organ and Tissue Donor Registry prior to December 2008. The heart on the SC Driver's license/ID only indicated the intent to be a donor, but did not put individuals in a registry. Now, South Carolinians can register their legal consent to become a donor by visiting the website DonateLifeSC.org or when obtaining, renewing or changing their license/ID through the SCDMV.

Nationally, 19 people a day die waiting on a life saving transplant. That is approximately one person every 90 minutes.

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