Sharing Stories of Donation

South Carolinian’s share a rich tradition of generosity and selfless giving. We need to look no further than in our community to witness the remarkable participation in the education and promotion of donor registration. Shared donor stories reveal a celebrated second chance at life for transplant recipients and help us honor all who gave the greatest gift of all.

Tanya Austin

Donor, Easley

Daughter’s gift of life is a blessing for her mom

Tanya Austin was a loving, sweet and giving daughter and sister. Tanya and her mother, Evonne Austin, were especially close. According to Evonne, the two were more like sisters than mother and daughter. They enjoyed talking, shopping, laughing and just spending time together.

Tanya was 27 years old when she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2001. While Evonne initially struggled with the decision, she ultimately knew that Tanya would have wanted to be a donor. Tanya was able to donate her kidneys, lungs, liver, and heart. Evonne has not met any of Tanya’s recipients but hopes they are doing well and performing good deeds with their extended lives to help others. Evonne adds, “I would also like to thank them for letting Tanya’s life continue through them.”

Evonne says, “To know that Tanya helped save lives has been such a blessing to me.” Another quote from Evonne – “There is nothing else you can do with your organs. Don’t take them to the grave. Leave them. Somebody is crying…somebody is begging…somebody is in need.”

Dianne Chiles

Liver Recipient, Greenville

Greenville professional receives liver transplant

Although Dianne Chiles was a very sick woman while she awaited her liver transplant, she refused to be angry or scared. She says that by remaining positive and greeting each new day with a smile, her spirit was maintained and it made the journey so much more bearable.

Dianne received her liver transplant in October 2008. Since then, she has continued to meet life with a positive attitude, faith and a smile. Dianne is a fighter! Not only did she receive the “gift of life” through her liver transplant, she also is a nine-year breast cancer survivor.

An employee at the Greenville Corporate Office of Bi-Lo Holdings, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family. She is also an avid supporter of her two sons’ school and sport activities. Dianne says to her donor family, “I thank you for your courage and generous spirit. My children, family and friends thank you. Your gift has allowed me to live again.”

Miren Ivankovic

Tissue transplant recipient, Clemson

Professor appreciates his gift

Miren Ivankovic was born in Zadar, Croatia. He came to the United States as an exchange student in New York and stayed to receive his undergraduate degree from Lander University and a Ph.D at Clemson University. Miren was an avid runner for many years, competing in the South Carolina Grand Prix Circuit. Eventually, he developed arthritis in both hips and ultimately suffered pelvic damage in 2005. At that time he underwent a series of bone grafts to repair the impairment. Since his surgery, he has continued an active lifestyle, playing tennis and running as often as he can. Miren has been a professor in the College of Business at Anderson University since 2006. He and his wife, Diana, make their home in Clemson. Miren says, “The cause of organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives. It for sure allowed my orthopedist to repair my very damaged pelvis.” “Donation is amazing. It is a true act of giving.”

M.J. Eugene Kinard

Donor, Clinton

Young donor saved four lives

Eugene Kinard was a sophomore at Clinton High School who enjoyed playing football and basketball. He was described by his teachers as kind, loyal and respectful. When Eugene passed away in 2013 at the age of 17, the Kinard family didn’t hesitate to say “YES” to his becoming a donor and giving the gift of life to others. The Kinard family knows how important donation is because they have two relatives who are awaiting transplants.

Eugene saved four lives through the donation of his heart, liver, both kidneys and both lungs. He improved countless others’ lives with his tissue donation. Eugene’s mother, Suzette Byrd, has already had contact with the recipient of Eugene’s lungs. He is a 37-year-old who lives in Virginia and, before his transplant, had been on oxygen since he was 19. Suzette says, “Donation is amazing. It saves lives.”

Darwin Rivera

Donor, Greenville

Young athlete saved six lives

Darwin Rivera and his family moved to the United States from Honduras when he was two years old. He was the middle sibling of a close-knit family of three. He has been described by friends and family as a carefree person with a striking personality who never met a stranger. He was always happy and lived each day like it was his last. He was a loving brother and uncle.

A 2006 Berea High School graduate, Darwin was an avid sports enthusiast and talented soccer player, participating in the Latino/Spanish leagues throughout upstate South Carolina and also at Spartanburg Methodist College.

Darwin and his older brother, Antonio, discussed organ, eye and tissue donation when Darwin was at the SCDMV changing his driver’s license in 2009. They both agreed that donation is the greatest gift you can give others.

On August 4, 2010, Darwin died as a result of a motorcycle accident at the age of 22. As both an organ and tissue donor, he saved six lives through organ donation and potentially will improve many more through tissue donation. Antonio says, “I find great comfort that Darwin lives on through those he saved. He has given others a second chance at life. …That’s my brother.”

  • Spanish Translation

    Darwin Rivera y su familia se mudaron de Honduras a los Estados Unidos (EEUU) cuando el tenía 2 años. Él era el segundo de una familia muy unida de tres hermanos. Sus amigos y familiares lo describen como una persona tranquila y con una personalidad llamativa quien nunca conoció a un extraño. El siempre estaba feliz y vivia cada día como si fuera el último. Él fue un hermano y un tío muy cariñoso.

    Se graduó del Berea High School en el 2006, Darwin fue un entusiasta de los deportes, ávido y talentoso jugador de fútbol, participando en las ligas Latinas/ Hispanas en todo el norte de Carolina del Sur, y también en el Colegio Metodista de Spartanburg.

    Darwin y su hermano mayor, Antonio, habían hablado de la donación de órganos, ojos y tejidos cuando Darwin estaba en el SCDMV cambiando su licencia de conductor en el 2009. Ambos estuvieron de acuerdo en que la donación es el mejor regalo que se le puede dar a otros.

    El 4 de agosto de 2010, Darwin murió a consecuencia de un accidente de motocicleta a la edad de 22 años. Él, como donante de organos y tejidos, salvó seis vidas a través de la donación de órganos y potencialmente mejorará la vida de muchos más a través de la donación de tejidos.

    Antonio dice: “Encuentro un gran consuelo en que Darwin vive a través de los que el salvó. Él le ha dado a otros una segunda oportunidad en la vida…Ese es mi hermano.”

Claire & Sandy Roberson

Liver recipient / Living donor, Greenville

More than just mother and daughter through donation

When Sandy & Clay Roberson adopted Claire in 2000, they had no idea that they would soon have a very sick baby. Claire was diagnosed with biliary atresia at four months old and they learned she would need a liver transplant. Both parents were tested and it was determined that Sandy, being a universal donor with a blood type of O-, was a suitable donor for her daughter. Sandy donated a part of her liver to Claire in March 2001. Sandy says, “The immediate change was remarkable. And we heard her laugh for the first time ever at nine months old.”

Sandy and Claire are both now living life to the fullest. Sandy, an associate professor in Accounting at Furman University, enjoys running, weightlifting, gardening and reading. Claire is an active 13-year-old who has won medals in the 2008 and 2010 National Transplant Games. Both Sandy and Claire will be competing again in those biennial Games in July 2014 in Houston, TX. Sandy, Clay, Claire & Anna Grace Roberson live in Greenville.

Claire understands her miracle and wants to set an example for others. She says, “It’s just a chance at life. When I die, I want to become a donor.” Sandy says, “Being able to save my child’s life will always be the greatest achievement of my life.”

What can YOU make possible?