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And the Beat Goes On


August 22, 2019

Kathie and Paige listen to Paul's heart beating in Pat's chest.

"The moment that we first heard Paul's heart beating in Pat's chest was something that we will never forget," says Jim Natzke, Paul Natzke's dad. "We knew it would be an emotional moment, but it was also unbelievably powerful to hear his heart beat on."

Jim; Kathie Natzke, Paul's mom; and his sister Paige made the decision to donate his organs while he was in the hospital.

"We were at the awful point where we knew Paul was gone, but we were given the chance to maybe turn that into something good for someone else," says Kathie. "Of course, we didn't know who or exactly what could be used, but we learned all that we could handle in the day or so we had to decide. We are so grateful that we made the choice and that we got to meet two of Paul's recipients."

Both Pat and Kelly, who received one of Paul's kidneys and his pancreas, have become friends to the Natzke family.

"It is good to know that he lives on in some way, and we are grateful for the bonds that have been built with these families," says Kathie.

Both recipients and some members of their families will be at Paulpalooza in Paoli from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on August 25, 2019. Last year, Paulpalooza was started as a way for Paul's friends and family to remember him, and to raise money for Paul's Party, a kindness campaign and charity that funds fun for disabled kids.

Kathie said that she isn't sure what to expect when they see each other again at Paulpalooza, but she will be happy to be with the recipients once again.

"It feels good to know something good came out of this," said Jim. "It is especially heartwarming to see that their families can be normal again. When we first met Pat, there were a lot of tears and hugging. It still is sometimes difficult, but now we know each other's families and there is a growing friendship, too."

Many of Jim and Kathie's family members want to meet Pat.

"I think it will be a weird, emotional, and a powerful thing, like it was for us, and I am a little worried that everyone is going to want to hear Paul's heart and it is going to get awkward, so we might need to control that a little," laughed Jim.

Kelly was a diabetic most of her life, taking insulin to control her blood sugar. She also was on dialysis because of kidney failure, which made her sick and made it difficult to be a mom to her boys. She received one of Paul's kidneys and pancreas at a critical time. The family lives in Door County.

"We met her husband and her kids, and they even took us to a Brewers game," said Jim. "They are a really great family, and it sounds like Paul's organs changed their life for the better in a big way. We enjoy seeing them whenever we can."

Jim recalls the first time they met.

"They came to our home and we had some cheese together," laughed Jim. "They walked in the door and Kelly's husband John said, 'I can't stand it, let's hug!' We've been friends ever since."

Kathie and Jim encourage you to think about organ donation, and to let family members know about your wishes.

"As a family, the four of us had some general conversations around the dinner table that if any of us could, we wanted to be organ donors," said Jim. "But when the time came, it was so exhausting and chaotic inside our heads. I'm glad that we talked it through ahead of time."

Kathie added, "We can't have Paul back, but it is nice to know there are at least two families who have someone who they love who is healthy once again because of Paul."

Paul's other kidney and liver went to a third recipient who passed away a few months after the transplant. Someday, Paul's family hopes to meet the family if they're interested in connecting.

The donor process is anonymous unless both the donor's family and recipient agree to meet.

Paul Natzke loved popping wheelies, and that spirit and energy were the inspiration behind the special beer brewed for Paulpalooza 2019.

"We hope to find out who are the recipients of Paul's other organs, but for now we are grateful for the relationships we have, and to know that the extra effort helped someone," says Kathie. "Paul's eyes and other tissues were used for research and someday, that will help others."

Jim and Kathie also formed a relationship with the UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UWOTD) team.

"Last year, four people got their donor dots during Paulpalooza," added Jim.

UW Organ and Tissue Donation will have an informational table at Paulpalooza, and they also sponsored the bags for the 'Party Packs' that are being sold to raise money for Paul's Party.

"I hope people take a minute to stop at the table and consider becoming an organ donor," said Jim. "Because when the time comes, it is hard to go through, but we are so glad that we did. Donating Paul's organs turned something positive out of the worst situation, and we are grateful that Paul lives on in a special way."

Submitted by Jim Natzke


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