POUGHKEEPSIE – Avid cyclist and kidney donor Mark Scotch was in Poughkeepsie on Friday for a rest during his 1,600-mile ride from Martha’s Vineyard to his home in Wisconsin. The mountain biker is raising awareness for the need for living donors and is making the ride after donating a kidney. The journey has been called “The Organ Trail” by Scotch and people can follow his ride here.
The 65-year-old man’s journey began on September 19, 2021, with his wife Lynn traveling piloting a support vehicle along the ride. This is the second long-distance ride that Scotch has pedaled, having ridden 1,500 miles from Stevens Point, Wisconsin to Natchitoches, Louisiana to raise awareness for the Narional Kidney Registry Voucher Program (NKR). The program allows a living kidney donor to choose the most convenient time frame for their kidney donation surgery and provide one or more vouchers to people who can then be prioritized to receive a living donor kidney through the NKR if/when they need a transplant.
“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.”
Scotch had met a man by chance in Natchitoches, Louisiana during a trip in 2020. The man, Hugh Smith, a former professional jockey, was in need of a kidney and Scotch offered his. Mark researched the idea. Through the National Kidney Registry Voucher Program Mark became a “voucher donor” where he would be matched with a recipient somewhere in the country. Once the kidney donation was complete, Mark could also name Hugh 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, Mark Scotch was matched with a compatible individual in New York and successfully donated his kidney. In February 2021, Hugh Smith received his much-needed kidney from Southern California. Both men are healthy and have resumed normal lifestyles.
Scotch is expecting to arrive home on October 17. On Friday at the Walkway Over the Hudson, NYS Senator Sue Serino, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, Mayor Rob Rolison, and John Penney, representing Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro all greeted the cyclist and presented him with proclamations. Rolison said that October 17, 2021 in Poughkeepsie will be known as “Kidney Health and Living Donor Awareness Day” to commemorate the journey and mission that Scotch has undertaken.
More than 100,000 people in the United States are waitingfor a kidney transplant and 13 people die every day while waiting for a kidney, according to the National Kidney Donor Organization (NKDO). Information on how to become a living donor can be found at the NKDO website.
The National Kidney Registry helps match donors with people in need of a kidney. More information can be found at the National Kidney Registry website.