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Kelly: A Remarkable Legacy

When Kelly Nachreiner became an organ donor in 2000, she created two types of legacies: one by saving three lives and another by inspiring legislation with the potential to save many more. Her family was consoled that when she obtained her driver’s license a few months prior to her death, she registered as an organ donor and shared her decision with her parents.

Just a few months after her death, her family and then-Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson worked to create the Kelly Nachreiner Bill—a law requiring teen Wisconsin driver’s education instructors to devote 30 minutes of class time to organ and tissue donation education. Wisconsin was the first state to mandate this type of legislation so teens obtaining a driver’s license could make an informed decision to register as an organ and tissue donor. Since 2000, over two dozen other states have enacted similar legislation. In the past 20 years this law helped register more than 1 million donors in the Wisconsin!

Kelly’s mom, Mary, expanded Kelly’s legacy even further through her work at UW Organ and Tissue Donation (a member of Donate Life Wisconsin) and by serving other organizations with the same mission in the organ, tissue and eye donation community. Says Mary, “I never dreamed that Kelly’s decision would create such a huge ripple effect, even twenty years later. Her spirit and legacy truly live on.”