Johnstown man uses Lego to help him with aftermath of liver transplant


JOHNSTOWN, Ohio — In 1969, it was a symbol of hope.

The Saturn V rocket broke barriers and, despite setbacks, achieved goals some thought were never possible.

The same goes for Brian Lensink.

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"I hadn't thought of that," he said. "That's a great analogy."

In 2013, at an annual blood screening at his work, he had abnormal results. A doctor's appointment would diagnose him with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the liver. Last year, he received a new liver through donation. While recovering, he says he got tired of watching TV and reading books.

"Candidly, I bought it to just have something to do," he said.

He bought a Saturn V rocket Lego set with, appropriately, 1,969 pieces. He says he hadn't built since he was a child.

He didn't want to take any more pain meds, so he scrapped them and turned to building. He took every piece of the set and dumped them in one big pile.

"Let's not make it easy on ourselves," he said. "Let's make it into some type of a physical therapy type of moment."

Before he knew it, he says building was helping him heal. Now, almost a year after his transplant, he's giving thanks.

"If anything comes out of this I'd love it to be that," he said. "That I could say thank you."

He realizes he's here today because someone else couldn't be. And, in National Donate Life month, he's urging everyone to be the difference in someone's life.

"If everyone could find it in their heart to transform that moment of loss into a moment of giving, it would transform lives on a scale that I don't think we could imagine," he said.

Much like the Saturn V Rocket to NASA, or a Lego version of it to Lensink, organ donation is a symbol of hope.

"To try to continue to just shoot for the stars," he said. "If you don't quite get there, that's OK, but at least you're aiming high."

According to Lifeline of Ohio, more than 59 percent of people in the state are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Currently, there are more than 3,100 people in the state waiting for an organ transplant. Nationally, that number is more than 113,000.

To learn how to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor, you can check out information on Lifeline of Ohio's website.