How One Entrepreneur Utilizes Visualization To Promote Living Organ Donation

Entrepreneurs change the world. We provide jobs that help drive the economy, give back to local communities, and create sustainability practices that support climate neutrality to make our world a better place.

Entrepreneurs also save lives. And that’s what Dave Galbenski, former EO Global Chair and 24-year member of EO Detroit, is doing. Dave is alive and well today thanks to a living liver donation in 2019. Dave’s donor was his brother-in-law, Mark Dybis, but many people on the organ transplant waitlist aren’t as fortunate as Dave in finding a donor match within their family.

Of the more than 103,000 people on the U.S. national transplant waiting list, 17 people in the U.S. die each day waiting for a life-saving transplant. The United Kingdom, Europe, and other regions worldwide face similar situations.

“If .06% of people in the U.S. between ages 20 and 60 became living liver and kidney donors, the transplant wait list for the 100,000 people waiting for those organs would plummet to zero,” Dave explained. And that would save a lot of lives.

Promoting Living Organ Donation

His experience as a living liver recipient inspired Dave and his wife, Lynn, to establish the Living Liver Foundation (LLF), and gave him a new purpose in life: To increase the number of liver transplants by raising awareness of living donor liver transplants among the general public as well as potential donors and recipients. A byproduct of his purpose? Lives are being saved.

In addition to passing legislation that makes living organ donation more accessible, Dave is passionate about getting the word out about living organ donation.

April is National Donate Life Awareness Month in the U.S., recognizing the critical impact of organ donation in its many forms. To bring awareness to the relatively lesser-known role of living donors, Dave and the LLF worked tirelessly to get April 11 designated National Living Donor Day in 2023.

The National Day Calendar honored Dave’s diligent work to educate the public about living organ donation by featuring Dave as the guest on Episode 1 of its National Day Podcast, which debuted on 10 April 2024.

Since April coincides with the start of major league baseball season, Dave saw the opportunity to coordinate two passions: He would leverage his lifelong love for baseball and his purpose of bringing attention to living organ donation by partnering with major league baseball teams. His efforts culminated in three Living Donor Awareness Games in the major leagues this week with the goal to honor, educate, and inspire.

On April 10 and April 11 when the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies play, thousands of fans in attendance and watching televised broadcasts will learn about living organ donation.

“We are calling the 2024 initiative the MLB 24 Hours of Life Project. Each of our three games that night — in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Philadelphia — will honor the living donors and medical professionals who perform the magic of organ transplantation,” Dave explained.

Each game will honor four to eight people who are either living donors, recipients, or medical professionals in an on-field ceremony with a video presentation. The honorees will
also either throw out the ceremonial first pitch from donor to recipient, deliver the game ball, or announce “play ball” to signal the start of the games.

In addition, Dave will be interviewed about living organ donation. The stadiums will play the LLF’s 60-second public service announcement on living organ donation, and honorees’ names will also scroll on the video board between innings.  

So, where will this streamlined effort to educate, inform, and inspire lead?

A Zero Waitlist Moonshot

“Achieving zero waitlists for organ transplants is my ‘moonshot’ that Peter Diamandis talks about,” Dave said. “I would love to inspire people around the globe who have a passion for baseball or who have been impacted by organ failure and transplant to join the movement to turn our vision into reality and solve this worldwide problem.”

Dave leverages his entrepreneurial skills to build connections, network, and make progress toward his ultimate goal: A world where every country celebrates zero waitlists for organ transplants.

He uses a 10-step process he designed to intentionally create the future he wants through the power of visualization.

When visualizing, Dave noted that clarity is key: Be specific about what you want to achieve. The goal should be detailed, measurable, and time-bound. With that in mind, here’s how Dave visualizes his goal:

“By 2027, we will have every major league baseball team with a home game on April 11 host a Living Donor Awareness Game to honor living donors, educate the public on the power and possibility of living donation, and hopefully inspire others to become living donors.”

Dave envisions the World Baseball Classic finals in 2038: “We will witness a packed stadium for the finals, with a pre-game ceremony that celebrates the fact that the waitlist for kidney and liver transplants has reached zero in every country participating.” 

“I can see it clearly: The scoreboard flashes a country flag, Japan, and then a “0” flashes on the jumbotron. Then we see the next country’s flag, Great Britain, then a “0.” And then: Germany, 0; Dominican Republic, 0; Australia, 0; Canada, 0; Mexico, 0; Panama, 0; South Korea, 0 — until all countries that are playing flash a zero, and then the scoreboard blinks 0’s consecutively,” Dave shared. “It is deafening in the stadium, with thundersticks making noise and flags twirling as we celebrate this momentous global feat!”

Aligning Passion and Purpose

Dave’s journey is a potent reminder that when passion aligns with purpose, anything is possible. His dedication to living organ donation advocacy exemplifies the potential for individuals to make a meaningful impact on the world. As Dave continues his mission to eliminate waitlists for organ transplants, he inspires others to join him.

“Since my transplant, my life has been so enriched by the immense gratitude I experience each day, the special moments that are sweeter because of the journey, and the impact I am able to make through my learnings as an entrepreneur and through EO,” Dave said.

It has been 10 years since Dave was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease that required a liver transplant to give him a second chance at life.

“My diagnosis occurred on October 21, 2013, one day after I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon. A decade later, on November 5, 2023, I ran the New York City Marathon honoring Mark and all living donors,” Dave shared. “The 26.2 miles on that day were filled with so many emotions and thoughts as I reflected on that journey. My finisher’s medal is engraved with ‘Dave Powered by Mark’.”

Dave’s vision of a world without organ transplant waitlists is steadily becoming a reality, one life-saving donation at a time.

“More than one-third of individuals on the kidney transplant waitlist are Black, while 60% of the overall transplant waitlist are people of color,” Dave explained. “We have the capability through living organ donation to ensure that no one else perishes while waiting for a transplant due to kidney or liver disease.”

Contributed to EO by Dave Galbenski, an EO Detroit member who served as EO Global Chair in 2008-2009. He is a graduate of the inaugural class of EO’s Global Speakers Academy. Dave is co-founder and chairman of the Global School of Entrepreneurship, which provides education for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Dave and his wife, Lynn, founded the Living Liver Foundation, which is dedicated to increasing the awareness of living donor liver transplant. Don’t miss Dave’s post about his liver transplant journey.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

Categories: Entrepreneurial Journey HEALTH Impact Make a Mark


Comments are closed.