Local husband and wife team up for organ donation
By Kana Coonce
STEVENS POINT – After joining the ranks of kidney donor with her spouse, Lynn Scotch will team up with her husband, Mark, as the pair gear up to hit the road again to raise awareness on the ease and necessity of live-organ donation.
The story of the Scotches’ organ-based activism begins in 2020, when they found themselves in a microbrewery in Natchitoches, La., on a post-retirement trip to Texas.
There, they met Hugh Smith, whose extended ibuprofen use from his days as a professional horse jockey had damaged his kidneys and sent him into severe renal failure.
Though Mark Scotch had only met Smith about an hour before, he offered him one of his own kidneys.
“The way kidney donation works nowadays, I did not have to match Hugh at all,” explained Scotch.
Through the National Kidney Registry (NKR) Voucher Program, Scotch received a voucher, which could be given to anyone on the registry at a time of Scotch’s choosing.
Meanwhile, the donated kidney he donated went to the next person on the registry for whom he was a match.
Scotch’s own kidney went to a recipient in New York, while Smith, with the voucher Scotch gave him, received a kidney from a donor in California.
“You double your gift if you use a voucher,” said Lynn Scotch, Scotch’s wife, who explained that priority for people in need of kidneys is granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
With a voucher, anyone from any spot on the kidney registry will receive higher priority for the next available kidney match.
Scotch recently donated her own kidney, with her voucher going to a two-year-old boy located in Minnesota whom she had found via a Facebook post seeking a matching donor.
“I couldn’t think of a single reason why, if I was healthy enough, as well, why wouldn’t I do it,” said Scotch.
She cited the ease of her husband’s donation and the large need for live kidney donors as her primary reasons for donating.
An average of 13 people die every day due to a lack of kidney donors in the United States alone.
Though many people register to donate their organs after they are deceased, the majority of potential deceased kidney donations are not viable – only three out of every 1000.
In addition, live kidney donations last twice as long as deceased kidney donations, reducing the need for future donations.
In order to raise awareness of the need for and ease of live kidney donation, Mark Scotch organized the Organ Trail ride, a cross-country journey taken via bicycle.
This February, he will be embarking on his fifth ride in three years.
Previous rides have spanned as many as 1,600 miles and destinations tend to involve places important to the Scotches’ own donation efforts.
This time, Scotch will be traveling from Lubbock, Tex., to Covington, La.
“We know there’s people out there,” said Scotch. “They just don’t know it yet, that they’re capable of doing this, and I think more people should do it.”
Being down a kidney has not made these journeys any harder for Scotch than they would have been otherwise.
“We’ve done three major trips, totalling around 4600 miles,” he said. “Up until a few years ago, I was doing endurance racing in the winter, so I went on both of those last winter (the Tuscobia and Arrowhead Winter Ultras) just to show that you really could.”
Scotch’s first cross-country bike ride took place only 17 months after he donated his kidney.
That trip spanned 1,500 miles, beginning in Madison, where Scotch donated his kidney, and ending in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he met Smith.
Scotch will be hosting a Q&A before his upcoming Organ Trail ride at his preferred bike shop, Hostel Shoppe, located at 3201 John Joanis Drive in Stevens Point, where he will answer questions about biking, live organ donation and the Organ Trail project.
The event will be held on Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m.
“The Hostel Shoppe has been my partner on the Organ Trail since the start,” he said.
For more information on live kidney donation, check out the NKR’s website at www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/, or the Organ Trail website, www.markscotch.com.