Hugh Smith was on dialysis and needed a kidney transplant as soon as possible, but never could’ve imagined that a stranger he met in a bar would end up saving his life.
In February of 2020, Smith was at a bar of a microbrewery in Natchitoches, Louisiana, when he met Mark Scotch. Scotch and his wife had stopped there on their way to Texas to avoid the Wisconsin winter.
The two got to talking, and Scotch learned that Smith was a former professional jockey, who had been injured a lot when he raced horses. In order to ease his pain, he would take ibuprofen for extended periods of time, which ended up damaging his kidneys.
Smith was now in renal failure and needed a kidney transplant. Without hesitation, despite being strangers, Scotch told Smith that he would be happy to donate one of his kidneys to him.
Unfortunately, Scotch didn’t end up being a match for Smith, but he still didn’t back away from his promise. Scotch ended up donating his kidney to a person in New York who also needed one, which helped Smith move up on the waiting list. Soon after, Smith received his kidney in September 2020.
After the transplant, Scotch learned more about the urgent need for living kidney donors and knew he had to get the message out there to others. He then set off on a 1600-mile bicycle ride from Massachusetts to his home in Plover, Wisconsin to spread awareness. He also wanted to show people that even with one kidney, you can still lead a life full of activities.
During his journey, he also learned that if a person donates a kidney to a stranger, they will receive vouchers for up to five of their family members, and should one of them eventually need a kidney, they would be prioritized to receive one. Because of this, Scotch’s wife, Lynn, has also decided to become a living donor.
This same voucher program is what allowed Smith to get his kidney. After Scotch donated his kidney, he was able to use one of his vouchers on Smith. Smith has been doing great and his new kidney is working wonderfully.
Scotch’s selflessness earned him a Best of Humankind Award for Triumph of the Year.
Click here to follow Scotch’s cycling journey as he raises awareness for organ donation.
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