(Courtesy Rep. Katrina Shankland)

Plover couple honored by Shankland

By Patrick Lynn

Rep. Katrina Shankland this week honored a Plover couple for their work in raising organ donation awareness.

Mark and Lynn Scotch were presented with a Hometown Hero Award from the Wisconsin State Assembly during legislative session at the State Capitol.

Mark Scotch walked into a Natchitoches, La. bar in late 2020. About an hour later, he decided to donate his kidney to a man he’d just met.

Scotch, 59, donated a healthy kidney in late 2020, using the voucher donor program through the National Kidney Registry. The voucher program allowed Scotch, an avid mountain biker, to designate his recipient.

After retiring from a career in paper sales, Scotch, and his wife, Lynn, visited a series of microbreweries across the nation to “talk hops” and make connections with potential buyers for a “mountain bike buddy” back home who’d given up farming cranberries in favor of growing hops.

While en route to Texas, the couple stopped at Cane River Brewing in Natchitoches, where Scotch struck up a conversation with Hugh Smith, who sat a few barstools away.

The two hit it off, according to Scotch. Smith explained he was a former professional horse jockey who’d spent years taking too much ibuprofen to deal with his constant aches, damaging his kidneys in the process. As Smith finished one beer, he politely declined Scotch’s offer for another, explaining that he had to get home for his nightly dialysis session.

“The next thing I knew, he was telling me about his need for a kidney, and how he was at stage five renal failure and on dialysis for 10 hours every night,” Scotch said in a 2021 interview with the Metro Wire.

Scotch said he doesn’t know what came over him, but it “just felt right” to offer one of his own kidneys to Smith.

That kicked off an intense year long experience for Scotch, who said he not only learned a great deal about the donor experience but underwent extensive medical testing to ensure he was a good match.

Scotch’s end of the procedure was conducted at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, then transported by medical courier to Louisiana in early 2021. The procedure was a success and Scotch said it’s bonded the two men forever.

To commemorate and celebrate the donation, Scotch took a cross-country bike ride along the Mississippi River from Madison to Natchitoches, where he met up with Smith.

After presenting the couple with the award this week, Shankland (D-Stevens Point), released the following statement:

The story of Mark and Lynn Scotch and the Organ Trail is really quite remarkable. Mark was moved to donate a kidney after a chance meeting at a brewery, and his generous and life-changing decision spurred a chain of events that led to Lynn donating her kidney, too. As they launched the Organ Trail, biking thousands of miles across the country to raise awareness about the power of living donations, they have made a tremendous impact on countless people in Wisconsin and across the country. Lynn and Mark’s shared commitment to making life-saving kidney donations and continuing to raise awareness that kidney donors can live healthy and normal lives following their donation is an inspiration to many.

I am proud to have nominated Mark and Lynn for this award, as their selfless actions have saved lives, and their advocacy to encourage living donors continues to save lives today. I strongly encourage everyone to visit markscotch.com to learn more about Mark and Lynn’s story, the Organ Trail, and how you can get involved.