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    Mayo Transplant Center staff ride in support of organ donation awareness

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Heavy rain and wind didn’t deter a group of Mayo Clinic Transplant Center staff on Monday, June 17 who joined a group of bicyclists raising awareness about the need for living organ donation.

A half-dozen Mayo staff pedaled from southwest Rochester to the Mayo Building in a show of support for “The Organ Trail,” a long-distance bike ride focused on bringing attention to the need for living kidney donors. Husband-and-wife duo Mark and Lynn Scotch founded the nonprofit series of long-distance bike rides following their own experiences as living kidney donors. Mark is also a living liver donor. The Rochester stop is part of a 1,173-mile, 3-week long ride that kicked off in their hometown of Plover, Wis. Mark does the cycling and Lynn helps support the team on the road.

Among those joining in the bike ride was Mayo Clinic Transplant Center Director Julie Heimbach, M.D. Standing before a row of journalists at a media availability, Dr. Heimbach explained why living donation is so critically important.

“At Mayo Clinic, we are all-in on living donation. We definitely believe it is the best way to get people off dialysis, potentially even having a transplant before they need to go on dialysis,” Heimbach said. “We are one of the largest living donor kidney programs in the country. And we’re so delighted to be able to support your ride.”

Dr. Heimbach presented both Mark and Lynn Scotch with gifts, including a Mayo Clinic cycling jersey for Mark Scotch.

The event featured another special surprise. Katelyn Thompson brought her 3-year-old son Cooper Thompson to welcome the cyclists to campus. Cooper received a kidney transplant thanks to Lynn Scotch donating a kidney to a stranger on his behalf.

"We were so astonished when we learned things like 13 people die every day in this country waiting for a kidney transplant. I guess we just thought everybody that needed an organ got one. And that's sadly not the case at all,” Lynn Scotch said. “So we figured if we don't know this, there must be lots of other people that don't know this and might step forward as well. And so began our journey.”

To learn more about becoming a living donor, visit the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center website.