By Tess Malijenovsky
Twenty-year old Samee Cannon of Beaufort won Miss Colleton County Rice Festival and is now in the running to become 2012 Miss South Carolina, a branch of the Miss America Pageant. Aside from holding the title of “prettiest eyes and smile” in the Miss Colleton County Rice Festival, Samee has an important platform that she will be talking about with the judges — organ donor awareness.
When Samee was only 11 she learned that her older brother, Sean, was diagnosed with PSC, a liver disease that’s definitive treatment is liver transplantation. When Samee graduated from Beaufort High School, she postponed going to college to move in with her brother and help pay the bills since
he had to take a year off work.
“I think that’s when the seriousness of the matter hit me,” said Samee.
Sean’s been on the donor list for nine years now still waiting his turn. “There’s not nearly enough organ donors in the world,” said Samee. She and her family promoted organ donor awareness locally last September with Save Our Superman. Samee was inspired to see her Beaufort community respond to the campaign: “I figured if we could do that much with just our community in a couple months, that me doing organ donor awareness for the Miss South Carolina Pageant could make a huge impact.”
According to Samee, the symbol on someone’s driver’s license simply isn’t enough. She encourages people to sit down with their families and discuss becoming organ donors. Anyone can register to become an organ donor on donatelifesc.org, a site where medics can quickly look up an individual’s organ donor status in a fatal situation.
Many people hold the belief that a physician or EMT will not do everything possible to save one’s life in an emergency situation if one is registered as an organ donor. The fact is that by law medical personnel must follow strict medical and legal guidelines before declaring death. Donation can only occur after there is an official declaration of death based on the laws of one’s jurisdiction. Upon death, one’s organs can save the life of someone else, like Samee’s brother.
Beaufort is excited for Samee and wishes her the best at the pageant June 7-14 as she models her bathing suit and evening wear, sings Laura Bell Bundy’s “Giddy On Up,” and discusses her platform on organ donor awareness.