Local Survivor of 1999 Columbine High School Shooting - Thankful for the Gift of Tissue Donation

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Kacey Johnson would struggle to hold and hug her children if it wasn’t for the gift of life she received from a tissue donor. April is National Donate Life Month. Throughout the month, North Carolinians will be asked to register their decisions to save lives by becoming organ, eye and tissue donors. This year's theme is "life is a beautiful ride."

Johnson, a Cary, NC resident, author, and survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, is able to hold the hands of her four children, hug them with two arms, and hold a book in one hand and a child in the other. “The gifts given to me through donation absolutely saved my life,” said Johnson. “Life was given to me by a family wanting the story of their loved one to continue in the life of another. I feel honored to be given this second chance, and to carry the story of another with every hug I share with my husband and children.”

"This part of Kacey’s story is not unlike thousands of other mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lives were saved or healed because of an organ, eye and tissue donor," said Danielle Niedfeldt, RN, JD, President and CEO, Carolina Donor Services. “Donate Life Month is a special time when we celebrate the tremendous generosity of donors, both living and deceased, who have saved or healed the lives of others. We are encouraging North Carolinians to become registered donors by joining the North Carolina Donor Registry at DonateLifeNC.org. The selfless acts of donors can become a beautiful ride for those who receive the gift of life through an organ, eye or tissue transplant."

More than 3,000 men, women and children are waiting for lifesaving organs at North Carolina transplant centers. Nearly 115,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list.

Throughout April, Carolina Donor Services will partner with the DMV, hospitals, universities, businesses throughout the state to educate the public about organ, eye and tissue donation and increase the number of people joining the North Carolina Donor Registry. This year, Blue & Green Day is Friday, April 12. Participants raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation by wearing blue and green, the colors of donation.

Additionally, Carolina Donor Services is leading the way to change North Carolina law so that the heart emblem on a North Carolina driver's license or state ID indicates one’s decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Current North Carolina Heart Prevails law restricts tissue donation. North Carolina is the only state in the nation where tissue for transplantation is not included in the first-person authorization at the DMV.