By: Caroline Balchunas
The 2022 Transplant Games of America wrapped up its annual event in San Diego earlier this month, and We Are Sharing Hope SC, the state’s organ procurement organization, sent two South Carolina families whose loved ones gave the gift of life when they passed.
Goose Creek parents Susan and Ben Morgan made the trip to honor their son Rudy (below right), who became a donor hero after passing away in February 2021. The 39-year-old offered individuals a second chance at life by donating his heart, his lungs, and both his kidneys.
The entire experience was cathartic, they said, as it was a chance to see transplant recipients shine during competitive and athletic events, while also connecting with others overcoming the loss of loved ones. The Morgans said they returned home inspired and ready to advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation in South Carolina.
“It was amazing to be able to meet people who have had transplants and talk to them and amazing to chat with other donor families and hear them share their stories,” Susan Morgan said. “I’m going to spread the word about donation. I want to work with my employer at the hospital and help get employees signed up to be donors. I can find a way to make it easy and overall, get people more involved.”
Their trip was full-circle for Susan because Rudy was born in San Diego and moved to Charleston in 2001. When We Are Sharing Hope offered to send her to San Diego, Rudy’s birthplace, Susan took it as a sign to go in his honor – and before she left, she spread his ashes there.