One Man’s Selfless Gift Saves a Life, Sets Example for Others

Industry: Healthcare

Utah man inspired by others choose to be a living organ donor

Salt Lake City, Utah (PRUnderground) April 30th, 2023

For years, Mike Wood, operations director of critical care for Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital, has seen the impact organ donors can have on the life of a person in need; often serving as a spokesperson touting the crucial need for organ donation.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of organ donation,” Wood said. “When I was 12 my uncle was in a tragic car accident and his heart was donated to someone in the community. It was remarkable to see the impact he could have even after his death.”

Last year, inspired by an article he read in an Intermountain Health publication about a Good Samaritan donor, and drawing on more than a decade of professional experience on the organ donation committee, Wood decided it was time to take his to a whole new level by donating one of his kidneys to a stranger.

“I had tried to donate a kidney to someone in my community before, but at that time my blood pressure was too high. They’re pretty selective about whose organs they will take,” Wood said.

His high blood pressure was attributed to his weight, so Wood set a goal to improve his health, and succeeded in lowering his blood pressure and his weight. In the meantime, the person he had hoped to donate to received another kidney, but the idea of donating was still in the back of his mind. When he read the article about a person donating their kidney to a stranger, he immediately started looking into the process.

“There are a lot of fears associated with this kind or organ donation,” Wood said. “A lot of people worry for you.”

Questions such as “what if your other kidney fails one day?” or “what if a family member needs a kidney one day?” swirled around him from people with the best of intentions. But none of their concerns were insurmountable in Wood’s mind.

“I don’t live in fear of the ‘what ifs’,” Wood said. “A lot of things could happen, but I’m not going to worry about that.”

As a living donor, if Wood’s remaining kidney is impaired later in life, he is moved to the top of the transplant list. And as for the chance of a family member needing his kidney one day, Wood said the more people donate, the shorter the donor list will be for everyone.

Once Wood started the process, it only took a few months of screenings and tests before a match was located and Wood was taken into the operating room. When it was all over, he was surprised by how quickly he was able to return to normal function.

“About a week after surgery, I was pretty sick, but it wasn’t too bad. I was back on my bike riding to work three weeks post-op,” Wood said. “I had to take it easy, and my strength and endurance were impacted, but I’ve built it back up.”

Wood said he knows his speedy recovery is not always the case for people in his situation, but in his mind, it’s a small price to pay for benefiting someone else’s life in such a big way.

About a month after surgery, Wood learned just how much of an impact he had made.

Not everyone wants or is offered the opportunity to connect with the organ recipient. But in Wood’s case, the man who received his kidney sent a letter expressing his heartfelt gratitude.

“It was really awesome!” Wood said. “I was under the impression I didn’t need or want to know who received it because I wanted it to be a gift with no strings attached. But this man sent me a letter. He told me he is a father of five kids and had been on dialysis three times a week for a year and a half.”

In the letter, the recipient told Wood, “You gave me an awesome kidney. The surgeon said it’s one of the best matches he has seen.”

The chance to read that letter made the experience even more meaningful for Wood.

“This man’s wife had wanted to donate her kidney to her husband, but since she wasn’t a match, she donated her kidney to someone else when he received mine, so the chain goes on and on,” Wood said. “It’s a gift that gives instant life-changing benefits to somebody.”

Wood hopes that his experience will open people’s minds to the fact that living donation is an option, including the donation of a kidney, or part of the liver.

“There is no cost to the donor,” Wood said. “The person receiving the organ pays for all the testing and medical costs and it’s all handled through Donor Services. I never received a bill.”

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with living donation, but whether someone chooses to become a live donor or to list themselves as an organ donor in the case of their own death, Wood said every donation helps.

“Last year there were 19 organ donors from St. George Regional Hospital, with 47 organs transplanted,” Wood said. “That’s 47 lives saved because of people’s decision to donate in the face of tragedy. We also had 14 tissue donors, which led to 40-60 transplantable donor grafts per donor.”

In honor of April as Organ Donation Awareness Month, a special flag-raising ceremony took place at on April 14 at the flagpole in front of St. George Regional Hospital to to honor those who have donated organs and those who have received them.

To sign up to become a living donor and learn more about organ donation go to:

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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