Greg Ostertag: A Real Hero

Posted by deb on April 29, 2010

Greg Ostertag
Most Jazz fans either know Greg Ostertag or have heard of him. Although he was the object of many jokes when he was here, he was also the center on the teams that went to the NBA finals twice. In his day he was as humorous an interview subject as our beloved Fes. But in 2002 he did something that changed the life of an individual forever and that is why he is my hero.

Mr. Ostertag donated one of his kidneys to his sister Amy Hall to save her life. That was 4 years after I received the kidney donation that saved my life. Unfortunately I do not know who donated my kidney, but I do know I would not be here to write about and indulge in my favorite pastime, the Utah Jazz, if not for that person’s generosity. The person who donated the kidney I received, and their family, dramatically altered the lives of three people they did not know. Along with the kidney I received, another person received the other kidney and still another person a liver. There are not many ways for the average person to save the life of another and this probably requires the least effort, especially if you are no longer using your organs. Just think of it as the ultimate recycling project. Of course if you are still living it requires a little more effort, but I am sure Greg would tell you it was worth every effort it required.

As far as I know Greg Ostertag was the first NBA player to donate a kidney and come back to play in the NBA. There were a couple of other NBA players involved in kidney donations, but they were on the receiving end. Both Sean Elliot and Alonzo Mourning returned to play in the NBA after receiving living donor kidneys.

April is National Organ Donor Awareness Month. The number of people waiting organ donation is huge and grows daily.

“National Donate Life Month was established in 2003. Every day in April, people across the U.S. make a special effort to celebrate the tremendous generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donors and to encourage more Americans to follow their fine example.
Make it known: I want to be a donor
  • Register with your State Donor Registry, if available.
  • Say YES to donation on your driver’s license.
  • Tell your family, friends, physician, and faith leader that you want to be a donor.
  • Fill out and sign a donor card, have it witnessed, carry it with you.”

So while you are thinking about who you dislike more: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant or Kenyon Martin, take a minute and think about becoming an organ donor. You can register online at and maybe someday you can save a life without lifting a finger.

A great big THANK-YOU goes to Greg Ostertag and the donor of my kidney and his or her family.

See you at the next playoff game, I will be the one at the very top with the binoculars so I can at least see the numbers on the jerseys of the players and recognize them that way.