Donate Life Today: Matthew’s Story

April is Donate Life MonthDonate Life Today

Matthew's Story


Donor Mom – Libby Lausch
Matthew Lausch: Organ and Eye Donor
Age 20 ~ Alberton, MT
Date of Donation: 5/8/09
Hospital: St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula, MT

Growing up, Matthew Lausch was a very busy and inquisitive little boy. He loved basketball, football, and track and field, as well as the outdoors -- hiking, hunting, fishing, snowboarding and swimming. He lived by the golden rule and his motto was “Live, Laugh, Love, Dance.”

Matt was a great older brother who always looked out for his little sister Olivia and always gave her advice when it was needed.

From an early age, Matt was always helping others, and as he grew older he became very aware of volunteerism. “One time, when we were leaving a store, he gave his last $5 to a man outside who was begging for help,” recalled his mother Libby. “I asked him why he had done that: ‘Because mom, you never know when you might need help. You may as well help others while you can.’ I never would have thought of a 15-year-old boy thinking that way.”

That same year, Matt received his driver’s license. Without his parents’ knowledge, he chose to become an organ donor. “Doug and I found this out when he was in a car accident on May 5, 2009,” said Libby. “We are so proud of him. Matt thought out his entire life. He was a very compassionate, loving and caring guy, always helping others. One of his favorite sayings was, ‘Don’t look back or at the black, there is always something golden to look for.’”

Matt passed away on May 7, 2009 at the age of 20. He had been studying computer engineering at college, where he had maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Libby summed up: “Matt gave the greatest gift a person could give his fellow man. He gave the gift of life through eye and organ donation.”

Donor family reunion with cornea recipient

In December 2010, Doug and Libby Lausch flew to California for a very special reunion with a stranger. Martin Sanchez received the cornea of the Lausch’s son Matthew in 2009. 

Matthew’s mother, Libby Lausch, shared “Matt had said to me that if he ever died to please be sure that they used his organs to help someone else out, when he died I didn’t even know he had chosen to be an organ donor when he got his driver’s license at 15. We are so proud of him.” Libby continued , “ I was so excited to meet Martin because Matt has such an appreciation for his 20/10 vision. He loved to see the sunset, stars, wildlife, small children, and the gnarly Montana thunderstorms”.

The reunion of this donor family and cornea recipient will have long lasting effects not only on the individuals involved but for the broader community.  These individuals have now become strong advocates for organ, eye and tissue donation, even taking time on New Year’s Eve to spread the message about donation and encouraging individuals camping out for the Rose Parade to register to donate.  These ordinary individuals have become heroes, helping save lives and promote the Gift of Sight.

Donate Life Float in the 2011 Rose Parade

The annual Donate Life Float brings the national Donate Life community to California each year in hopes that the millions of parade viewers and spectators around the world are inspired by the meaningful stories of donation like the story of Martin and Matthew. We hope these powerful stories inspire others to join the 92 million Americans who have registered as organ, eye and tissue donors on their state donor registries.

Matthew is the second Montanan to be honored on the national Donate Life float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

The 2011 float theme was “Seize The Day” and featured a flying kite as a reminder to make the most of every moment to build dreams, friendships and memories with loved ones. Through the gift of organ and tissue donation, transplant recipients are able to live their dreams, living donors and recipients build the deepest friendships and donor families are comforted by the memories and living legacy of their loved ones.

Libby and Marty Lausch

Photo Credit: Margot Duane

Matthew’s family helped create floral image of Matthew that was be integrated into the kite design of the eighth Donate Life float entry in the 122st Rose Parade along with 59 other organ eye and tissue donors, as a loving tribute to donors and their families around the country. The final details of Matthew’s were added by his family and friends in the Alberton gymnasium where he spent so much of his time.

How to become an organ eye and tissue donor:

  • Check “yes” on the organ donation  box when renewing or applying for your Montana Driver’s License
  • Sign up at
  • It’s important to talk to your family, friends and loved ones about your decision to
  • One organ, eye and tissue donor can save and heal 50 people.

To learn more about the Donate Life Float please visit

To learn more about Matthew and Martin’s story visit

Voices of Montana radio interview of Libby (Donor Mom) and Marty (cornea recipient) with Aaron Flint.

Listen to the Voices of Montana interview on the Northern Broadcasting System:  part 1 » | part 2 »

Cornea donor's family, recipient call for more donors

San Francisco Chronicle

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