BJU graduate Margaret Stegall donated her liver to a woman she had never met almost two months ago. Now, as she wraps up the final stages of her recovery, Stegall holds the Torch of Life at the pinnacle event of Donate Life Week on the BJU campus.
The torch bears her name along with the names of every South Carolina donor from 2020 and the start of 2021. The Olympic-style torch represents the gift of life that donors give to their recipients and carries the symbol of organ, eye and tissue donation.
The torch’s state-wide journey takes place over the month of April and will pass from one bearer to the next. Bearers include the South Carolina governor, city mayors and transplant recipients. Each landmark the torch is passed at represents a key part of that city’s identity.
Stegall received the torch from BJU President Steve Pettit at a ceremony on April 7, National Living Donor Day, in the School of Health Professions facility. Pettit became the first university president to pass the torch, and BJU was one of more than 15 South Carolina universities to recognize April as National Donate Life Month. The event drew attention to the life-changing impact of organ, eye and tissue donation and honored Stegall as a living donor.
How It Began
In February, Stegall began the process of living donation when she donated nearly 60% of her liver to save the life of fellow BJU graduate Janet Thorin. Stegall learned about Thorin’s need for a transplant through the BJU Alumni Facebook page and eagerly volunteered to donate.
“For me donation was the answer to, ‘What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?’ ” Stegall said. “When you become an organ donor, you are giving another person a second chance at the life you have and the life you would want for your parents, siblings and friends.”
“After witnessing the wonderful example of selfless donation by our graduate Margaret Stegall, a living donor, to fellow graduate Janet Thorin, it seemed only fitting BJU would become involved in supporting this vital cause,” Pettit said. “We are honored to help create awareness for Donate Life and organ donation here in South Carolina.”
Honored with Medallion
Tracy Moore, CEO of Donate Life South Carolina as well as a representative from the state’s organ and tissue recovery service Sharing Hope SC, presented Stegall with a living donor flag and a donor hero medallion.
“On this National Living Donor Day, we celebrate Margaret as a living donor and recognize her as a South Carolina donor hero,” Moore said. “In saving the life of another, she exemplifies for us the virtues of selflessness and compassion.”
Following the presentation of the flag and medallion, Pettit signed and read a proclamation for BJU recognizing Donate Life Month and urging all members of the BJU community to register to be organ, eye and tissue donors.
Stegall passed the Torch of Life at Furman University to fellow living donor Sandy Robins, a Furman professor who became a living donor to save the life of her daughter. Both BJU and Furman are lighting campus landmarks blue and green in honor of the Donate Life Movement alongside other state landmarks, including the Governor’s Mansion, the Statehouse and Greenville’s Liberty Bridge.
BJU Community Involvement
Though the climax of the week took place Wednesday, BJU organizations and campus departments have come together to show their support of Donate Life and to recognize the importance of becoming an organ donor. The Health Science Association, led by Abby Leaman, hosted a Donor Drive that allowed students to register as a donor and receive free Donate Life paraphernalia. Aramark partnered with Cuppa Jones, an on-campus coffee shop, to sell blue and green Italian sodas as well as blue and green sweet treats.
Not only will students show their support throughout this week but students from the School of Health Professions will be asked to participate in the national Moment of Silence on April 16 at 1:08 p.m. In addition, Stegall will give a statement leading up to the silence.
If interested in becoming a living donor, register at RegisterMe.org or at your local DMV office.