The Organ Trail Local Kidney Donor Cycles, Telling the Reason for the Ride


(WFRV) – A 65-year-old man from Plover rides his bike from Massachusetts to Wisconsin, raising awareness and telling his unique story.

Mark Scotch embarks on a marathon bike tour “The Organ Trail”. He says he’s taking the road to promote kidney disease, living donor awareness and post-donation functionality.

His adventure began on September 19. Scotch says his route will take him through New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and return him to his hometown of Wisconsin on October 16.

Local 5 met Scotch as he was cycling through town. Below you can watch WFRV’s Go-Pro footage as Scotch continues its run.

Where it all started

“I’m just sitting there having a beer with the guy and he got up to leave and I kinda gave him a hard time and he said he had to go home and have dialysis and that blew me away a bit. He told me he had stage four kidney failure and was looking for a kidney, ”Scotch recalls.

He was just in the right place at the right time when Scotch met Hugh Smith, 56, a former professional horse jockey.

Scotch says it all started in early 2020 at Cane River Brewing in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

The two were complete strangers when they first met, but that didn’t stop Scotch from offering one of his kidneys to help someone in need. An impromptu decision that would trigger something bigger.

Throughout the process of researching what it takes to donate a kidney, Scotch says a poignant statistic has remained with him. “13 people die every day in this country while waiting for a kidney. Each day. And it kind of struck me that I could do more than just donate a kidney.

Smith’s and Scotch’s kidneys weren’t ultimately compatible, 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 over, Scotch said he could name Smith as the person he wanted to benefit from, which gave the former jockey a higher priority on the transplant list.

Move on to September 2020, Scotch says he’s paired up with someone in New York City and donated his kidney. In early 2021, Smith received a kidney from a donor in California.

What started cross country cycling?

Scotch says he’s using his cycling skills to prove that donors can return to their previous activity level and function with just one kidney. He adds that it is also meant to celebrate Smith and raise awareness.

This trip is not Scotch’s first trip to the cause. His first marathon took place in early 2021.

“So I organized the first ride, I went from Madison, Louisiana to see Hugh with his new kidney. And then on September 19, I left Martha’s Vineyard to go home and that was to represent my kidney going to New York, ”Scotch explained.

On Friday, Scotch will present a small program at Xavier Middle School in Appleton to talk about organ donation and how the process saves lives. You never know, donating your kidney might even help someone you might already be friends with. Like Scotch and Smith.

Full details of this 1,600 mile kidney donation awareness trip are available on Facebook at The Organ Trail.

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