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Cyclist rides 'the organ trail' through the Valley for kidney transplant awareness

Posted at 10:27 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 01:30:44-04

A cross country cyclist advocating for organ donation made his way across the Valley on Monday.

Mark Scotch, 66, had just come from the Southern California desert when he rolled into a windy and rainy Phoenix.

When you ride as often as he does, a little bit of rain doesn’t keep him off two wheels.

“I do about 60, 70, 80 miles a day, it just depends,” he said casually.

The bike trek he’s currently on is his third across the country. This time he started in San Diego and he’s ending in Lubbock, Texas – just about 1,300 miles.

He calls it ‘The Organ Trail.’

“13 people die every day waiting for a kidney transplant. At age 64, I don’t know why I had never heard that before. I just decided to spread that word,” he said

His push to pedal for organ donation awareness all started at a brewery in Louisiana.

He sparked a conversation with a former Jockey named Hugh Smith.

Like riding a tandem, the two hit it off, talking about sports, politics and beer.

“If he didn’t have that personality, I don’t think we’d ever get far enough in the conversation where eventually told me he needed a kidney,” said Mark.

Hugh explained that the bruises and injuries that come with riding race horses led to too much ibuprofen, damaging his kidneys. Hugh left Mark saying he had to do dialysis, which he does for 10 hours a day.

The next day, Mark called Hugh and offered him a kidney.

“Lefty is gone,” said Mark.

Mark donated through the National Kidney Registry, which put his kidney in a pool. Because he gave in Hugh’s name, Hugh was able to move up the donor list.

Mark’s kidney ended up going to someone in New York, while Hugh received a kidney from someone in Southern California.

Those locations were ending points for Mark’s two other “Organ Trails.”

Along the way he stops in major cities to advocate for more people to consider donating.

“Possibly save someone’s life and go back to normal life. I’m trying to demonstrate with one kidney and doing these rides you don’t have to sacrifice anything,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mark will be at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix to advocate for the National Kidney Registry.

Instead of taking a bike, Hugh flew in Monday night to be alongside his brewery buddy.