ALTOONA, Iowa – The Iowa Donor Network is fondly remembering one of it’s “greatest employees,” a Polk City man who died in a house fire Tuesday night.
“A lot of people referred to him as a mentor, everyone you talked to will tell you he was one of the nicest guys you’d ever met,” said Tony Hakes with the Iowa Donor Network.
Mike Nelson spent seven years with the Network, most recently as part of its Tissue Recovery Team. Nelson was found in the basement of his home Tuesday night after 9 p.m. He died from smoke inhalation. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters. A GoFundMe has been set up to support Nelson’s family, and in one day, has already surpassed its $15,000 goal.
Hakes describes Nelson as someone who truly cared about helping others; he says it wasn’t odd to see Nelson scraping ice and snow off people’s windshields at the Iowa Donor Network before leaving after a long shift, or asking co-workers if they needed anything else before he went home. A volunteer firefighter and paramedic, neighbors tell Channel 13 Nelson was someone dedicated to serving his community.
Nelson was also an organ donor, and now, his tissue will go to help anywhere from 50 to 100 people in need.
“He was the kind of man that did it with integrity, he absolutely believed in our mission, and inspire Iowa, to donate life,” Hakes said. “And as a result, he chose to be a donor at the end of his life, and he was able to go on and heal other lives by being a tissue donor.”