Roper St. Francis teammate shares her late son’s story in honor of Donate Life Month

Susan and her husband at transplant games

After experiencing the devastating loss of a child, teammate Susan Morgan found comfort in knowing that her son’s last act on Earth was giving.  

Her son William “Rudy” Morgan registered as an organ donor when he got his driver’s license at 16. That decision saved five lives 24 years later. 

“You never know what road God is going to take you down,” Susan said. “It’s been really hard for me, but I’m so thankful that Rudy was a donor. There is comfort in knowing that he was able to save five people.” 

A tragic loss 

William “Rudy” Morgan
William “Rudy” Morgan

Susan remembers returning a call in the middle of the night and hearing words that no mother ever wants to hear – that her son had collapsed and was found unresponsive. After extensive testing, doctors couldn’t explain what happened.  

Rudy was just shy of 40 when he died of unknown causes in February 2021.  

His family remembers him as a loving father, skilled craftsman and exceptional cook with an infectious laugh. He was loyal to his loved ones and would, without question, do anything for anyone, as evidenced by his own wish to donate his organs, his sister, Holly, wrote in a “Moment of Honor,” a document that his organ’s recipients received.  

The gift of life  

Rudy’s gift of organ donation gave five individuals a second chance at life. 

His kidneys 

Rudy’s kidneys were given to a 59-year-old male and 54-year-old male. Most people who need a kidney transplant are experiencing end-stage renal disease and are on dialysis, a physically draining, non-curative process that is difficult to tolerate. After a transplant, dialysis is no longer necessary. 

His heart 

A 56-year-old male received Rudy’s heart. Patients who require a heart transplant have serious cardiac disease. Some individuals who are waiting for a transplant are hospitalized, and most are so ill that they are not able to work or enjoy a full life. A transplant is often their only option for survival. 

His liver 

A 42-year-old male received Rudy’s liver. People who require a liver transplant have serious liver disease or are experiencing liver failure. Often, patients who are waiting for liver transplants are extremely fatigued, jaundiced and suffer from confusion.  

His lungs 

The recipient of Rudy’s lungs was a 62-year-old male. Many patients in need of a lung transplant require continuous oxygen and cannot walk a few feet without becoming short of breath. A transplant is the only option to provide a better quality of life and to extend their life. 

Susan hopes to one day meet or speak with the recipients of Rudy’s organs. 

Comfort in community 

We Are Sharing Hope is the organ and tissue donation program for the state of South Carolina. Not only did they help facilitate Rudy’s organ donation, but they have since offered compassion and support to the Morgan family as they grieve his loss.  

“I feel like the connection I’ve made with the people at We Are Sharing Hope has been very good for me,” Susan said. “I can’t imagine going through that and not meeting all these wonderful people.”  

In August 2022, We Are Sharing Hope sponsored Susan and her husband, Ben, to travel to San Diego, where they attended the Transplant Games of America. The event gathers thousands of transplant recipients, living donors, donor families, individuals on the waiting list, caregivers, transplant professionals, supporters and spectators to celebrate the gift of life.  

“Rudy was born in San Diego,” Susan said. “Going there for the Games felt like a complete circle.” 

At the Games, Susan met a man waiting for a kidney transplant. Though he had never met Susan and Ben, he wanted to give them something as a token of gratitude for their son’s life-saving donation. He brought them a gold medal that he won in the Transplant Games the year prior. Though he is still waiting for his kidney, he was grateful for the donors and their families, Susan said.  

Susan has worked at Roper St. Francis Healthcare for almost 13 years. She previously served as the self-described “checkout queen” at a primary care office. She now works part-time at an information desk at Roper Hospital. 

How to register  

National Donate Life Month is celebrated in April and is a time to educate and encourage people to register as donors, consider being a living donor and celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.  

“It’s strange to think that only 1 percent of people who sign up are able to donate,” Susan said. “I find great comfort in knowing that Rudy was able to. Even if just one person registers after hearing Rudy’s story, it will have made a difference.” 

Registering is easy, quick, and heroic, according to Donate Life South Carolina. Individuals can register here or by obtaining, renewing, or changing their S.C. driver’s license/ID at any SCDMV office.  

When registering through the SCDMV, a new logo representing legal consent will be placed on an individual’s license/ID. It is a heart and “Y” surrounded by a circle with 11 “ticks” in it. This represents the fact that nationally every 11 minutes another person is added to the transplant waiting list. 

Register today!