Mark Scotch, living kidney donor, 67, is once again hitting “The Organ Trail” ---- cycling his way to promote kidney health, living donor awareness, and post-donation functionality ---- this time with a marathon 1,500-mile bike ride.
Scotch’s fifth Organ Trail began Thursday, March 9th, 2023, in Lubbock, Texas, on World Kidney Day.
From there, he traveled to Ft. Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston, Texas, before proceeding to New Orleans arriving in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on approximately April 11th.
Mark’s wife Lynn joined Mark by becoming a living kidney donor herself on Jan. 10th, 2023.
“The Organ Trail is all about generating awareness of the need for kidney donors, especially living kidney donors, but it’s also about showing people that even with one kidney, you can still lead a life full of activities, even if those activities are sustained and vigorous,” said Scotch.
About The Organ Trail
Scotch’s story began in early 2020 when he met Hugh Smith, 56, a former professional horse jockey, at Cane River Brewing in Smith’s hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Scotch learned that during his days as a jockey, Smith suffered frequent injuries. To combat the pain, he took ibuprofen for an extended period of time. This damaged his kidneys, sending him into severe renal failure in 2019 and requiring him to have daily dialysis. This also put him alongside nearly 100,000 Americans waiting for a life-saving kidney.
Just the day before, the two men had been strangers. That day, Scotch knew what he wanted to do: give one of his kidneys to Smith.
Although Scotch’s kidney wasn’t a direct match for Smith, he still wanted to donate a kidney to someone who needed one. Through the National Kidney Registry Voucher Program, he became a “voucher donor” where he would be matched with a recipient somewhere in the country. Once the kidney donation was complete, Scotch could also name Smith as the person he wanted to benefit, which would give the former jockey higher priority on the National Kidney Registry transplant list.
In September 2020, Scotch was matched with a compatible individual in New York and successfully donated his kidney, and in early 2021, Smith received his needed kidney from a donor in California. Hugh’s doctors are pleased with his recovery, and he has returned to work.
“The voucher system allowed me to do everything at my local hospital in Madison, Wisconsin while Hugh went to his local hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, and gave Hugh higher priority on the transplant list,” said Scotch.
To increase kidney disease and living donor awareness, celebrate Smith, and prove that donors can return to their previous level of activity and function on a single kidney, even if that activity is sustained and vigorous, Scotch put his cycling skills to use. In early 2021, he completed his first Organ Trail, cycling 1,500 miles from Madison, where he donated his kidney, to Natchitoches, where Smith and he first met.
With 3,000 new patients added monthly to the kidney waiting list, and 13 people dying every day because of a shortage of kidneys, the cyclist-turned-kidney donor plans to continue raising awareness about living kidney donation through The Organ Trail.