The Gift Of Life...The Story Of Deana Carter


Charles White

Most of us never think about death. We simply dismiss the thought that one day we could be faced with a life-threatening illness and even die. We often think that death won’t happen to us because we’re too young, too successful, too faithful or possibly just too famous. However, nine years ago, country music superstar Deana Carter realized that despite her Grammy Award nominations, gold records and her deep faith, her father was dying and there was nothing she could do about it. Deana and her family needed a miracle. That miracle was flown in from Chicago.


In 1995, Deana learned that her father was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder, called Wagoner’s Disease, which threatened to take his life. Fred Carter, a legendary guitarist in his own right, was powerless. Faced with the realization that Fred’s condition was terminal, his doctors put him on the transplant list and hoped for a miracle. Just before the Christmas holidays, that miracle arrived.


“He was on dialysis for a period of time and put on a donor waiting list through Vanderbilt Medical Center,” Deana explained.”  “We got the call from his doctor. regarding the donor kidney just before the Christmas holidays, after my brothers and I

had traveled from Nashville to Winnsboro, La., where my parents were living at the time.  Mom and I packed up the car and blazed back to Nashville, since we didn't have much time before the surgery had to happen. It was a huge success and needless to say, it was one of our most precious and memorable Christmases.  What a Gift!”


Deana is the first to admit that she and her family are lucky. There are thousands of people who are removed from the waiting list each year because of death, while thousands more are added and hope and pray that they will receive a miracle, too.


“It is such a tremendous heartache to be on a waiting list and never get the ‘call’,” Deana shared.  “Luckily, we finally got a match and our call came.  But there are so many others who aren't as fortunate. All we know is that the kidney came from the Chicago area.  We are so grateful to the family that made this possible for us.  Their gift has given my Dad and my family QUALITY of life for the last 9 years.  We are so blessed.”


In fact, as of February 2004, 23,387 transplants occurred throughout the country from only 12,133 donors. Every fourteen minutes a new name is placed on the waiting list for an organ. In addition, over forty-five thousand Americans were given the gift of sight through cornea donation and hundreds of thousands of others were given the chance for a pain-free life through other transplantable tissues such as bone, skin and heart valves.


Deana and her family realize that they were lucky. They also realize that although Fred lived, many other families aren’t as lucky. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), on average seventeen people die each day due to a lack of transplantable organs. That adds up to over six thousand people that die each year deaths that possibly could have been avoided if we all had the forethought to tell our loved ones that we want to be a miracle in someone else’s life.


“It is SO simple, SO necessary, and SO easy to give this gift to someone who really needs it,” Deana passionately states.  “I'm an organ donor through my driver's license and that's really easy. EVERYONE can do it if it's available in your state, and is in most, if not all states around the country. If you're not old enough to drive, or you don't have a driver's license, carry an organ donation card with you.  Always discuss your choices with your family.  Share your blessings with the world.  There are so many people that you can help through your legacy.  It is one final way to help make the world a better place!”


Very few Americans have the trained ability to help someone who is blinded, in chronic pain or even facing the possibility of death, but we all have the potential to help through donation. We can all sign a donor card and share our wishes with our loved ones and let them know that we too want to be a miracle in someone else’s life when our time on this earth is finished. If you don’t think that simply signing a donor card and sharing your wishes with your family is such a big deal, just ask Deana Carter. Better yet, ask her father Fred. They both know a thing or two about the miracle of donation.


For more information on Organ and Tissue Donation, visit the National Coalition on Donation by clicking here.