Lexington man raises awareness on need for organ donors this Christmas after brother's death

Posted at 4:20 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 19:44:13-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — 22 people die every day waiting on a lifesaving transplant. That's why the brother of a Lexington man who lost his life waiting has made it his mission to help change that.

Seven years ago, Kevin Owens' life changed forever. Kevin says he and his brother Nick Owens were best friends assigned at birth.

"He was the only brother I have, so he was like my ride or die," said Kevin. "He loved Kentucky UK athletics, loved his state. He loved horse racing."


In 2013, doctors diagnosed Nick with liver disease. He ended up stuck on an organ transplant waiting list for seven months until he couldn't hold out any longer.

"We were always hopeful," said Kevin.

Before he died, Nick made his brother Kevin promise to keep spreading awareness about the need for organ donors.

"He wanted to give back. So, he always said, 'souls go to heaven, organs don't.' So, it was just his way of saying we got to keep preaching this organ donation for me after I pass," said Kevin.


Every Christmas since he lost his brother, Kevin's made good on his promise. He's spread awareness about the people waiting and collecting donations. He's also given presents filled with gift cards and money for patients spending Christmas in the hospital.

"It helps us keep Nick's memory alive, and that's one of the main things that we want to do," said Kevin.

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Executive Director Shelley Snyder with Kentucky Donate Life says more than 100,000 people nationwide are on the donor list, including more than 1,000 in Kentucky.

"They're added to that waiting list, and that's what they're told. You have to wait on the generosity of a stranger to say yes and save your life," said Snyder. "We all have a way of impacting that simply by saying 'yes' and registering as an organ donor."

Snyder says a lot of the fear surrounding why people don't sign up is based on misinformation.

"I think one of the biggest fears is that for some reason, perhaps people believe not enough will be done to save your life if you're registered as an organ donor. One of the things that's so vital that people realize is that no one knows that you're registered as an organ donor. Those doctors and nurses are there to save your life, and only after someone has died is organ donation possible," explained Snyder.

Because a brother's love is forever, that's how long Kevin plans to keep his promise.

"As long as people are willing to give and I can raise money, I'll do it every Christmas somewhere," said Kevin.

He collects gift cards and financial donations all year long to support the event.

You can follow him on Facebook at "Ridin' the ORGAN trail for Nick Owens."