SC organ donations hit record numbers in 2020 despite uncertainties from COVID-19 pandemic

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MARION COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Richard Williams Jr has never taken a day for granted.

The Senior Pastor at Mt Vernon Missionary Baptists Church in Nichols was diagnosed with Stage 4 Renal Failure in 2017.

“I have three kids I want to live for. A new church I want to pastor. A wife, a community and a family who loves me,” he said.

After years of treatment and dialysis, Williams got the call there might be a kidney for him.

“The young lady on the phone begins to tell me she thinks there is a match,” he said.

Williams and his wife drove down to Charleston in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic for the procedure in late April. “I started to drive but I was so nervous so we pulled over and my wife took over.”

He had no idea donations were still going on at the time, but he was very thankful to be at the hospital.

Williams went into the procedure alone due to safety protocols in place because of COVID-19, “It was just me and the Lord.”

He said he wasn’t scared, he was so excited to get the new kidney. “The decision the family of the donor made was so sacrificial and so selfless. It has an impact on my life and everyone attached to my life,” Williams said.

He is one of the hundreds of South Carolinians who received a donation during the pandemic.

South Carolina saw a record number of donors in 2020. According to the state’s chapter of We Are Sharing Hope, more than 200 organ donors and their families made the decision to save lives last year.

Officials said these donations helped 500 people across the country in 2020.

President and CEO David DeStefano said, “Organ, tissue and eye donation is still an essential process even during something like COVID. It was a process we were compelled to continue which our team did.”

We Are Sharing Hope SC said more than 300 tissue donors helped 24,000 people in the US in 2020. They hope momentum continues in 2021.

Williams said because of the pandemic, people are thinking about doing good for their neighbors in ways they never did before.

He said, “Through COVID people have realized life is so fragile and people are stopping and thinking about their mortality.”

Right now, there are more than 2.3 million South Carolinians registered to be organ donors. We Are Sharing Hope said they believe stories like these could help get more people registered.

For more information on National Donate Life events in South Carolina this month click or tap here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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