Family and Organ Donor Recipient Honor Man Who Gave ‘The Ultimate Gift’

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DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been a little more than a year since 21-year-old Austin Goodrich passed away in a motorcycle accident. Austin was an organ donor and on Sunday his family, friends, and one of his organ recipients celebrated his life at Gray’s Lake in Des Moines.

On Aug. 10, 2019, family and friends of Austin walked the halls of a hospital to honor Austin and his decision to be an organ donor after he passed.

“It came as a surprise me. I didn’t know he was a donor. And then I’ve seen throughout all this how important it is to have organ donors,” said Matt Goodrich, Austin’s father.

On Sunday, they were still walking in honor of his life and the lives he saved by donating his organs.

“That’s kind of what’s kept me going is knowing how he gave back and helped save people and kept their lives going,” said Angie Schoebel, Austin’s mother.

Austin donated his main organs.

“Both kidneys, pancreas, liver, heart, his lungs went to research. We actually even heard from a 38-year-old man that received a tendon for his knee. A guy received a cornea implant. He restored eyesight in two different people,” Schoebel said.

Ben Gatton from Cedar Rapids received one of Austin’s kidneys and met Austin’s parents for the first time this August.

“There were no words first. Me and Austin’s mom were in a hug immediately, just because we had already felt that connection,” Gatton said.

“The first time I met him, just to see how much this has changed his life and his family’s life. And it’s been great because without this, he wouldn’t probably be here,” Matt Goodrich said.

Austin’s parents are now volunteers with the Iowa Donor Network and encourage everyone to #belikeAustin and register to be an organ donor.

“You can’t imagine how many people you will touch with that. If the worst is to happen and there’s something that you’re able to give, you won’t know it, but everybody around you will understand the impact that you have and everybody that you do impact. There’s no feeling like it in the ultimate gift that they’ve given for you,” Gatton said.

“Sometimes it’s hard to even explain. It’s a good feeling. It’s hard, but it’s a good feeling at the same time that he helped other people and the people are here because of that,” said Zac Goodrich, Austin’s older brother.

Since Austin passed, every member of his family has registered to be a donor. You can too by visiting iowadonornetwork.org.

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