By Liz Collin


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This summer will mark two years since a Minnetonka man died of an opioid overdose.  But a clerical error at a medical clinic means his mom can move forward.

Born a hockey fanatic, Ryan Briese went to Bloomington Jefferson where he grew up skating alongside Zach Parise and Tommy Gilbert.  His devastating cut as a senior from varsity hockey tryouts was detailed in “Blades of Glory,” a 2003 hockey book.

Still, even as a little boy, Ryan was known for giving his equipment to families who couldn’t afford the sport.

“That’s so Ryan that he would want to take care of his mom like that,” his dad, Mike Briese said.

His parents believe their son’s giving ways are still at work nearly two years after his tragic death. Ryan died at 34, within seconds of taking what he thought was OxyContin that he’d bought from a friend.

“It was almost the same kind of makeup that Prince had in his system,” Laurie Mahoney, his mom said. “They did say that he was a tissue donor and they would be taking some of his tissue. I can’t believe what it is meaning to me now.”

Laurie never gave Ryan’s decision to be a donor much thought until a ski accident in March.

“Once I fell on my knee I immediately knew I’m in trouble,” she said.

Her ACL wouldn’t heal on its own and Laurie needed surgery.  On a whim, she called the tissue bank.

“I called on a Wednesday and just Monday of that week they got approval to have Ryan’s tissue donated because of some clerical error,” she said.

Typically, her son’s donation should have been gone within a few months.

“She said we can make it work on our end– we can craft it, if you can find a surgeon who can make it work on your end,” Mahoney said.

Later this month, Laurie will be with the same surgeon who nursed Ryan back from so many hockey injuries for her own surgery: Dr. Joe Teynor from Twin Cities Orthopedics.

“Upon my first meeting, 15 minutes later he said absolutely I will make this work,” Laurie recalled.

A lasting sign of a son’s big heart.

“I know it’s his way of still taking care of me,” Laurie said.

Ryan’s mom will be the very first recipient of her son’s donations.  Medical professionals have been so moved by Laurie’s story, they plan to hand deliver Ryan’s tissue to the surgery center the day of her procedure on May 30.

Ryan’s legacy of giving hockey equipment to underprivileged children lives on through a nonprofit dedicated to giving more kids a chance to play the sport he loved.

Liz Collin

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