It’s made all the difference for Bill Runnels. If you don’t think that being an organ donor recipient can’t improve the quality of someone’s life, you may want to talk to the retired U.S. Marine, who is now enjoying the freedom associated with not having to go to dialysis because he received a new kidney.

A flag ceremony was held Friday afternoon at Aiken Regional Medical Centers to recognize organ and tissue donors and their families and the organ and tissue donor recipients.

Every 11 minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list, said Ivy Harmon, Aiken Regional Medical Centers director of critical care.

“There are approximately 1,000 people in the state of South Carolina who are waiting for organs,” said Harmon. “That’s more than 117,000 people across the United States waiting on an organ transplant. Each year, 6,000 people die because they didn’t get an organ despite the fact they were on that list.”

People benefit every day from organ donation as it provides recipients with another opportunity at living a heathier life, said Tracie Amrhein, Life Link hospital development liaison.

The family of Aiken Department of Public Safety Cpl. Sandy Rogers was at the ceremony. Rogers, who gave her life in the line of duty, was an organ donor.

Runnels and Jack Rogers Jr., Sandy Rogers brother, raised the Donate for Life flag.

To learn more about organ donation, visit