UNC transplant clinic renamed to honor former Tar Heel student mascot

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The UNC Transplant Clinic was renamed Saturday afternoon to honor a former student who was killed in 2007.

Jason Ray performed as the UNC mascot, Rameses, for three seasons before he was killed.

He was hit from behind while walking on a highway shoulder near his hotel in Fort Lee after going to a nearby convenience store while in New Jersey for the NCAA Tournament.

He was scheduled to graduate the following May with a major in business administration and a minor in religion.

jason ray
(AP Photo)

Jason Ray’s organs and tissues to donated the Sharing Network of New Jersey. The Foundation said all four recipients of Ray’s organs survived.

“It’s just incredible that it’s come to this,” said Emmitt Ray, Jason’s father.

It was hard to see what good could come after the tragic accident.

“(Jason) told me he wanted to be an organ donor, I tried to talk him out of it,” said Charlotte Ray, Jason’s mother.

Jason Ray was in New Jersey when he was hit by a car and killed. He was there ready to play his role as Rameses before a UNC tournament game.

“Jason became, literally overnight, a symbol for donation transplant across the nation,” Director of UNC Center for Transplant Care Lauren Kernes said.

Jason’s mom wasn’t able to talk him out of being an organ donor, and since his death he’s helped 118 people.

His family has also created the Jason Ray Memorial Transplant Fund, helping transplant families financially.

But Saturday, the hospital unveiled a new plaque, welcoming you to UNC’s Jason Ray Transplant Clinic.

Charlotte Ray and a plaque bearing her son's name.
Charlotte Ray and a plaque bearing her son’s name.

Emmitt said, “I think it’s a fitting tribute to Jason.”

The Ray family pledged to raise $1 million for it.

“I’m very happy, because that’s what I wanted was some recognition, because I never want Jason to be forgotten,” Charlotte told CBS North Carolina.

Now, Jason’s family hopes they can help one of the 3,000 people waiting in North Carolina for a transplant.

Charlotte said, “I’ve got a red heart on my driver’s license, and I want to do the same thing.”

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