You Can't Take It With You

Classmates Marcos Caballero, Luke Hartigan, Tim Brennan, and JP Berkery help spread organ donation awareness during an end-of-year barbecue.

Tim Brennan ’20 helps lead effort to change teenage attitudes towards organ donation

Ever since witnessing his aunt endure four transplants throughout her struggle with kidney failure, Tim Brennan ’20—a rising junior at Regis—has acquired a passion for organ donation awareness. That passion was intensified in early 2017 when New York State, which has the lowest number of organ donors in the country, lowered the age limit for registered donors to 16-years-old.

“By hearing the mantra Men for Others over and over again and knowing what it means, I knew I should do something,” reflected Brennan. “No one should have to die because not enough people were willing to give up something they do not need, and everyone who ever needed an organ should have an amazing story like my aunt.”

Brennan made a connection with Live On NY, a nonprofit organization committed to helping New Yorkers with organ and tissue donation. He was drawn to the organization’s efforts to educate others.

Scott Wohl, Senior Manager of Community Engagement & Activation, was Brennan’s first connection, and has remained someone with whom he has worked closely.

“Tim has proven to be an incredible advocate for organ donation. It is not often that we run into young people like Tim who enthusiastically take up the cause,” said Wohl.

With the nonprofit’s guidance, Brennan identified ways to spread awareness both at Regis and within his own community.

At Regis, Brennan—with the help of a few classmates—led a donation education effort in the cafeteria during lunch periods. This work culminated in an opportunity to address the student body briefly at an end-of-year barbecue in the Regis Quadrangle, where NY1 was also on hand to interview him.

Brennan’s efforts have helped evolve attitudes towards organ donation. “A lot of kids have engaged with me to learn what we are talking about. A number of them registered as organ donors as well. Every new donor helps.”

In addition to his efforts within the Regis community, Brennan has worked tirelessly to spread his message more broadly. In early May, CNN published an op-ed article he authored (A new teenage cause: Organ donation |, Updated 8:30 AM ET, Wed May 9, 2018).

“As a 16-year-old in New York state, there are a lot of things I cannot do,” his article states. “I can’t join the Army, I can’t get a driver’s license, I can’t vote, and I can’t drink. But there’s one thing I can do. I can register to become an organ donor, something that before February 14, 2017, no 16-year-old in New York could do.”

Man for Others is something we talk about all the time, and it means a variety of things,” said Rev. Daniel K. Lahart, President of Regis. “Tim brings this home in an important way—how can I give of myself to others in a literal way? Organ donation is a crucial way to give to others so that others may live. I’m very proud of Tim and his friends who have helped raise awareness of this in our own community.”

Brennan’s op-ed concludes with a simple but direct message: “Have a heart and be an organ donor; you don’t need them where you’re going.”

Posted: 8/11/18