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Making a difference: Organ trail bikes through Vicksburg

What do 1,500 miles, two men and a chance meeting all have in common? Making a difference.

Mark Scotch had made his way to Natchitoches, La. early in 2020. He was pitching a hops beer at a brewery and when the sales meeting was over, he struck up a conversation with Hugh Smith, who was sitting just a couple of bar stools down from Scotch.

The two men had never met but Scotch was immediately drawn to Smith.

“He was such an outgoing positive and happy person. He was just one of those people that are just really pleasant,” Scotch said.

The conversation lasted a good while. That was until Smith said he had to go.

Scotch was enjoying his company and tried to encourage him to visit a bit longer, but he couldn’t.

Smith had to leave for dialysis.

This stirred something in Scotch, and before Smith left the bar, Scotch told him if he needed a kidney he would give him one of his.

“I made my decision immediately,” Scotch said. “I didn’t even think about it.”

Scotch knew donating a kidney was something that could be done. His sister-in-law had donated one of her kidneys years earlier, he said.

On Sept. 30, Scotch had surgery and became a living kidney donor.

Scotch’s kidney, however, did not go to Smith. They weren’t a match, but through the aid of the “voucher donor” program, offered through the National Kidney Registry, a match was found for Scotch’s kidney and Smith, too, found a compatible kidney.

It is through this experience that Scotch decided to share his and Smith’s story and set out on The Organ Trail: A Kidney Donation Journey.

The journey entails Scotch riding his bike from Madison, Wisconsin to Natchitoches, La. in an effort to make people aware that 13 people die every day in the U.S. waiting on a kidney and that if 10 of every 10,000 people would become living donors no one would ever have to wait on a kidney. He also wanted to ride his bike 1,500 miles to prove you can still be active if you choose to be a living donor.

“I want people to be curious (about becoming a living donor). Check it out and educate yourself about the National Kidney Registry. Just do that,” he said. “I’m asking people to try to become as knowledgeable as they can and by doing that, everybody is going to know a little bit more and tell somebody else a little bit more.”

Scotch set out on his journey on April 24 and made his way to Vicksburg Tuesday. During his stop here, he said he camped at the Rivertown Rose Campground, ate at Rusty’s Riverfront Grill and enjoyed touring the River City on his bike.

Scotch’s wife Lynn is accompanying her husband on the Organ Trail by car.

For more information on Scotch’s journey, visit The Organ Trail Facebook page. For more information about living kidney donations, visit www.kidneyregistsry.org.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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