UW Grad and Transplant Recipient Honors his Gift of Life

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Big Red Goes Orange

Join Dottie Donor Dot and her team of volunteers at the UW Badgers Football Game on Nov. 27

Big Red Goes Orange for Organ Donation


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Mike and Ben Ziehr; Liver Transplant RecipientsBen Ziehr honors the second chance at life he received from his organ donor.


Like many transplant recipients, Ben shows his gratitude by taking great care of his new organ, the liver he received as a child that keeps him alive today.


Ben inherited a genetic metabolic disease known as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency (AAT).


The disease can lead to life-threatening liver and lung damage in patients who present symptoms. It is caused by insufficient amounts of the protein Alpha-1 Antitrypsin, an important protein in liver function. Ben's younger brother Mike also had the disease, and in fact, it was Mike's diagnosis that caused physicians to check Ben for the disease.

Both brothers received liver transplants in 1995 at UW Hospitals and Clinics in Madison.

After receiving his transplant Ben knew that he would need to work hard to keep his body healthy, and to honor the gift he was given.


Always an athlete, Ben began to train with a purpose in mind and in 2004 he competed in his first National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games, an Olympic-style competition for transplant recipients.


Ben enjoyed the competition, and did well representing Team Wisconsin. He continued to train and enjoyed winning several medals in the 2010 Transplant Games where he competed in the team 4x400m relay, ballroom dance and volleyball.

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Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 and is now a graduate student at the University of North Carolina. He will make his way home to Madison to join Dottie the Donor Dot and the UW Health Organ Procurement Organization in promoting organ donation awareness at the November 27 Badger football game.


Ben, his parents and his brother Mike are excited to represent transplant recipients in Wisconsin when they walk onto the football field to accept the game-day football. For Ben, it's just another way he can honor and celebrate the gift of life he received as a child.


Date Published: 11/17/2010

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