Former student athlete and organ donor is honored

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

A former SDSU baseball player was honored at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., this January.

Kim Morsching, the mother of former SDSU pitcher and Rapid City native Kevin Morsching, rode on the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade. Kevin’s brother Kirby Morsching, who is an SDSU senior and a pitcher on the baseball team, helped assemble the float for the Rose Parade.

Kevin died on Aug. 27, 2007, from brain injuries caused by a skateboarding accident. The 21-year-old biology major was a pitcher for the Jackrabbit baseball team.

“He successfully gave six organs,” said Kim, who rode through the parade route holding a picture of her son. Kevin donated his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas, saving six people.

He also made 160 tissue donations, 55 of which have been placed, said Kim.

“Because of his physical condition and his injuries, he was able to give more than most people,” she said.

“It’s pretty amazing how many people he helped,” said Kirby.

The Morschings have met four of the recipients of Kevin’s organs and exchanged letters with all six of them.

“Kevin was always giving. ? He liked to do things personally to help someone. He was always doing things like shoveling walks in the neighborhood,” she said. “Donation spoke to him. He felt it wasn’t necessary to take all of that with him; it was his nature.”

“Our parents told us to do it, so when we pass away we could help others,” Kirby said.

The theme for this year’s Donate Life float was “Stars of Life.” According to the Donate Life float Web site, anyone can be a star through organ, eye and tissue donation.

The Donate Life float won the Queen’s Award, said Kirby. The award is given out for the best use of roses or flowers, he said.

The float was meant to honor the people who make organ donation possible: donors, their families, transplant patients and healthcare professionals.

“(The parade) was an eye-opening and heart-healing experience,” said Kim. “It was wonderful.”

The float had 26 riders who were either organ recipients or family members of organ donors. The float is sponsored by organ and tissue organizations around the United States. There were also 38 memorial floragraphs to honor people who donated their organs. For more information about the float and those honored on this year’s Donate Life float, visit

“It was an amazing experience,” Kim said. “I met other donor families and recipients and others involved in organ donation organizations.”

“I truly believe organ donation has helped our family out,” said Kirby. “I just want to say thank you to everyone for their support last year.”

Kim was sponsored by the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, a non-profit group that helps provide tissue and support for donors, recipients and their families.

According to Donate Life, 94,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants, and more than 2,500 of those individuals live in the upper Midwest.

Kim asks that others consider becoming organ donors.

“If you knew Kevin, do it as a way to remember him or as something to do out of the goodness of your heart,” she said. “We hope you never have to donate, but it is a huge gift.”

Kim also stressed the importance of discussing organ donation with family and friends so it will go easier if the time ever comes.

“It is truly an act of the heart.”

#1.882068:1704810003.jpg:Morsching.el.jpg::Eric Landwehr/University Relations