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Sumner becomes first Tennessee county to be organ donor support community

Sumner County Organ Donation
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 20:03:25-04

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Of course, many of us love to hear our cities named on lists declaring them among the best places to live. However, one county's just taken on a very different kind of title — one that makes it the first of its kind in Tennessee.

"We are a community of compassion," said Kathleen Hawkins, president and CEO of the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are a community that can come together."

Hawkins, Sumner County clerk Bill Kemp and Sanders Ferry Pizza and Pub owner Eddie Anderson are all among the team making Sumner County known for something new.

"Sumner County has been named an organ donor support county," said Kemp.

It's the first county in Tennessee to do this, and one of the only counties in the country.

What it means is that the county is working with Tennessee Donor Services. The coming months will see signage going up, around cities and at events, encouraging organ donation. Some businesses, like Anderson's, offer special deals for organ donors.

After all, pretty much all of us know someone affected by the need for organ donation.

"I have an uncle who received a liver transplant," said Anderson.

"I attended church with someone who was on the waiting list for a heart, and unfortunately, they didn't make it," said Kemp.

Some even see it as part of their purpose to encourage those donations.

"Because it saved my life," said Hawkins.

It was March 2020 when her family learned that because of an autoimmune disease, their mom needed a liver transplant.

"I was told if I didn't have a transplant soon, I would die," said Hawkins. "By July of 2020, I was planning my funeral. I was planning my kids' future without me in it. I was moving forward every day, not knowing if there'd be a tomorrow. Thankfully, the call came. Thankfully, the request was fulfilled, and thankfully, I got that second chance."

"We have 3,000 Tennesseans today waiting on organs, and not all those people are going to be able to receive a transplant," said Kemp.

"It doesn't take much, but you can affect other people's lives," added Anderson.

"I love the fact many in our community are stepping up and saying, 'hey, let's make a difference. Let's create awareness. Let's save lives,'" said Hawkins.

For more on organ donation, visit the Tennessee Donor Services website.