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St. Luke's Health emphasizes the achievable potential of leading a fully active lifestyle post organ donation

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HOUSTON (March 29, 2023) - St. Luke’s Health today partnered with The Organ Trail to prove living organ donors can live a fully active lifestyle after giving the gift of life. Mark Scotch, living kidney donor, 67, departed from Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center’s McNair Campus on the latest leg of his 1,500 bike ride through Texas to Louisiana promoting kidney health, living donor awareness, and post-donation functionality.

The event included a flag raising ceremony with LifeGift and kicked off St. Luke’s recognition of Donate Life Month, an annual observance in April to raise awareness about organ donation, encourage people to register as donors, and honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. 

“Baylor St. Luke’s Medical has a rich history of innovation and leadership in the development of new technology and treatments to improve outcomes for transplant patients,” said Liz Youngblood, president of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Partnering with The Organ Trail and LifeGift is a natural fit to advance awareness of the lifesaving impact of organ donation.”

This is Scotch’s sixth Organ Trail with previous routes from Winsconsin to Lousinana, Massatruchets to Wisconsin and San Diego to Texas. He also completed endurance rides in Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

“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. 

A person’s generosity can save as many as eight lives through organ donation, bring sight to others with cornea donations and improve yet another 75 lives or more through tissue donation, according to LIfeGift. 

“Organ, eye and tissue donation is a selfless act of giving and a way to help others,” said, R. Patrick Wood, MD, FACS, CTBS, LifeGift executive vice president and chief medical officer. “By registering to become an organ donor, you can save or improve as many as 75 lives. There are currently thousands of Texans waiting for a life-saving transplant right here in our communities. As an organ procurement organization (OPO) designated to support the donation process, LifeGift is on a mission to provide hope to those in need through excellence in organ and tissue donation.”

To learn more about organ donation and register to become a donor, visit donatelifetexas.org

About St. Luke’s Health

St. Luke’s Health is home to 16 general hospitals covering Houston, Brazos Valley, Brazosport, and Lufkin and includes Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, the research and teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine. St. Luke’s Health is also home to the Texas Heart ®Institute (THI), the top ranked heart center in Houston, and the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a nationally accredited, NCI-designated cancer center. Its integrated network of care includes more than 380 employed and 1,600 clinically aligned network providers, and more than 21,000 employees, providers, interns, and volunteers delivering high value, nationally-ranked quality care within a Christian ministry of healing. St. Luke’s Health is a member of CommonSpirit Health, a national nonprofit, Catholic health system with more than 140 hospitals covering 21 states and delivering care to more than 12.3 million patient visits annually. Learn more at stlukeshealth.org.

About LifeGift

LifeGift is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) health services organization. As the organ procurement organization (OPO) for North, Southeast and West Texas, we partner with more than 200 hospitals across 109 counties to save and heal lives. LifeGift is a founding member of Donate Life Texas, the organization that manages the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Please visit www.LifeGift.org.

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 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.

Publish date: 

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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