LUBBOCK, Texas — To bring awareness to organ donation, Mark Scotch decided to bike across the state of Texas to Louisiana.

In early 2020, Scotch met Hugh Smith, 56, a former professional horse jockey, at Cane River Brewing in Smith’s hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Smith was in need of a kidney due to frequent injuries from his work. 

Although Scotch’s kidney wasn’t a direct match for Smith, he wanted to donate a kidney to someone who needed one. He became a “voucher donor” through the National Kidney Registry Voucher Program, where he would be matched with a recipient somewhere in the country. 

Once the kidney was donated, Scotch was able to name Smith as the person he wanted to benefit, which would give the former jockey higher priority on the National Kidney Registry transplant list.

Since then, Mark and his wife Lynn both became organ donors and said they were on a mission to show others you can live healthy and happy as an organ donor.

“I just want to encourage people if they have a little curiosity, to just look into it, you never know if it might be for you and the voucher program even allows somebody to donate now,” said Scotch.

Scotch said specific vouchers may even allow you to help save a family member’s life later down the line.

“Name five family members for future use if one of them should ever use it, so it’s like an insurance policy for the younger grandkids, their own kids. So, if somebody is curious at all, don’t waste any time,” said Mark.

Lynn, who recently donated over a month ago, said donating will change your life for the better.

“Living kidney donation is a gift. you can give to another that has an impact like little else that you most people can do in their lifetime,” said Lynn.  

Lynn also said programs have made the process easier to donate.

“Different organizations like the National Kidney Registry have really, over the last few years, also made huge efforts to make being a living kidney donor as easy as possible,” said Lynn.

Scotch’s fifth Organ Trail was set to begin Thursday, March 9 in Lubbock on World Kidney Day. 

From there, he will travel to Ft. Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston, before proceeding to New Orleans arriving in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on approximately April 11.