(WFRV) – A 65-year-old man from Plover is cycling his way from Massachusetts to Wisconsin, raising awareness and telling his unique story.
Mark Scotch is embarking on a marathon of a ride – biking ‘The Organ Trail.’ He says he’s hitting the road to promote kidney disease, living donor awareness, and post-donation functionality.
His adventure began on Sept. 19. Scotch says his route will take him through New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and bring him back to his hometown in Wisconsin on Oct. 16.
Local 5 met up with Scotch as he was cycling through town. Below you can watch WFRV’s Go-Pro footage as Scotch continues his ride.
Where it all began
“Just sitting there having a beer with the guy and he got up to leave and I kind of gave him a hard time about leaving and he said he had to go home and go on dialysis and it just kind of blew me away. He told me he was in stage four renal failure and was looking for a kidney,” remembers Scotch.
He just happened to be at the right place at the right time when Scotch met 56-year-old Hugh Smith, a former professional horse jockey.
Scotch says it all began in early 2020 at Cane River Brewing in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
The two were complete strangers when they met, but it didn’t stop Scotch from offering up one of his kidneys to help someone in need. A spur of the moment decision that would spark something bigger.
Throughout the process of researching what it took to donate a kidney, Scotch says one harrowing statistic stuck out to him. “13 people die every day in this country waiting for a kidney. Every single day. And it kind of struck me that I could do more than just give a kidney.”
Smith and Scotch’s kidneys were ultimately not a match, but that didn’t stop them.
Through the National Kidney Registry Voucher Program, Scotch says he became a ‘voucher donor’ where he could be matched with a recipient somewhere in the country. Once the kidney donation was complete, Scotch says he could name Smith as the person he wanted to benefit, which gave the former jockey higher priority on the transplant list.
Jump to Sept. of 2020, Scotch says he matched with someone in New York and donated his kidney. By early 2021, Smith received a kidney from a donor in California.
What started the cross country cycling?
Scotch says he is using his cycling skills to prove that donors can return to their previous level of activity and function on a single kidney. He adds that it is also meant to celebrate Smith and raise awareness.
This ride isn’t Scotch’s first journey for the cause. His first marathon was in early 2021.
“So I put the first ride together, I rode from Madison down to Louisiana to see Hugh with his new kidney. And then September 19, I left Martha’s Vineyard to go to – back home and that was to represent my kidney going to New York,” explained Scotch.
Friday, Scotch will speak at Xavier Middle School in Appleton to talk about organ donations and how the process saves lives. You never know, donating your kidney could help someone you might already be friends with – like Scotch and Smith.
Full details of this 1,600-mile kidney donation awareness journey can be found on Facebook at The Organ Trail.