Tallahassee, Fla. (August 8, 2011) -
Keith Hamilton is hitting the road, literally, with his mission to increase organ and tissue donation registrations. The Tallahassee father wrapped his vehicle with a message to "Donate Life," in memory of his fallen son, Specialist Austin Spencer "Ash" Hamilton, who became both an organ and tissue donor after his death.
The younger Hamilton was an army scout with the 1st Cavalry Division who had just returned from a tour in Iraq May 2010 when he was killed in an accidental shooting in Ft. Hood, Texas. Within 24 hours of his death, he saved the lives of five others through his gifts of organ donation and enhanced the lives of many more through his gifts of tissue.
"Several months ago, we received a letter from an 18-year-old man who had faced the amputation of his leg until he received a bone graft from Ash," said Keith Hamilton. "My son's tissue was a perfect match, and they were able to save his leg."
Receiving this letter forever changed Hamilton's outlook on how the gift of organ and tissue donation can transform the lives of others. He immediately created an organ donation awareness foundation in his son's name and launched a crusade to promote enrollment on Florida's organ and tissue donor registry.
"Our mission is to get the message to join the donor registry in front of as many people as possible," Hamilton said, "and we are going to do that by putting this custom-wrapped on the Tallahassee, north Florida and south Georgia roadways everyday."
The need for organ and tissue donors is tremendous. There are more than 3,900 patients on the waiting list at Florida transplant centers and more than 111,000 listed nationally. Approximately 28,000 patients are transplanted annually, but the waiting list continues to grow and exceeds donation rates.
Hamilton hopes to motivate at least 1,000 individuals to join the registry and document their wishes to become life-saving donors this year.
"It takes just a few minutes to enroll on the registry," said Hamilton, "but those couple of minutes one day could mean the difference of life and death for someone on the waiting list."
For more information about the Austin Spencer "Ash" Hamilton Foundation, visit www.TheAshFoundation.org .
For more information on organ and tissue donation or to register your wishes to become a life-saving donor, visit www.DonateLifeFlorida.org .