Last August, Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace’s younger brother, Keith, died suddenly at 25 when a brain aneurysm burst.
Though his family didn’t know, Keith Wallace had signed up on the state registry to be an organ donor – giving “first-person consent” for his organs to be used by those awaiting transplants in the case of his death.
“Keith was a big-hearted guy,” Randal Wallace said. “He was a typical 25-year-old. It was a real shock when this happened.”
When Randal Wallace and his family learned that Keith Wallace had place himself on the registry, their parents honored his wishes. Being on the registry makes it easier for families to decide what to do when dealing with the death of a loved one, said Mark Johnson, spokesman for LifePoint Inc., an organ and tissue donation service in South Carolina.
“It consoles them to know they already had that wish when they’re dealing with the death of [next of kin],” he said.
Randal Wallace said his brother’s liver, lungs, heart and kidneys were donated to those on the waiting list.
“And with tissue donations he could have helped as many as 50 people,” he said.
Randal Wallace said though it hasn’t happened yet, he hopes that he hears from some of the five people who received his brother’s organs.
April is National Donate Life month and the City Council is expected to honor LifePoint and its sister organization, Donate Life South Carolina, during Tuesday’s meeting.
“It makes you feel good to know that [council members] were willing to support this,” Randal Wallace said. “This touches me a lot more personally than it does them.”
Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said this isn’t the first time the council has recognized organ donation awareness. The council issued a proclamation in 2001 recognizing National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.
Johnson said there are about 1,000 South Carolinian awaiting organs and there is a wait of at least two years to receive a kidney, the most-needed organ in the state.
He said he was thankful to Randal Wallace and the City Council for recognizing his organization and increasing awareness for organ donation.
“We’re basically a grassroots effort so any way to get information out there definitely helps by making the public aware,” Johnson said.
The S.C. Organ and Tissue Donor Registry launched in December 2008 at the Department of Motor Vehicles with a one-time grant from the state. All money used to run the registry and donation service comes from direct donations or those who choose to donate at the DMV.
For more information or to register to be an organ donor, visit www.DonateLifeSC.org.