Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nice Guys Finishing First: Wake Forest Baseball Coach Gives Player Kidney

By DAN COLLINS/Winston-Salem Journal

Even though he wants his baseball players to swing for the fences, coach Tom Walter of Wake Forest University recognizes that there are some situations in baseball, as in life, that call for a sacrifice.

It was in the fall while running, when he does his deepest and clearest thinking, that Walter, the second-year coach of the Deacons, devised perhaps the most benevolent and consequential sacrifice the game has known.
Surgeons at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta executed the play flawlessly today, removing a kidney from Walter and transplanting it into a freshman outfielder named Kevin Jordan who has yet to play a game at Wake Forest.

By late Monday afternoon, both were out of intensive care and resting as comfortably as could be expected.

“First and foremost, I just wanted to help this young man,” Walter said Thursday as he discussed the pending surgery. “When we recruit our guys, we talk about family, and we talk about making sacrifices for one another, for our teammates. That’s something we take very seriously, and I think this is something that anybody would do for a family member.”

Jordan was diagnosed in April, during his senior year at Northside-Columbus High School in Georgia, with ANCA vasculitis. It is a type of autoimmune swelling caused by abnormal antibodies that attack one’s own cells and tissues. By August, his kidney function was reduced to 8 percent.

Even so, he enrolled in Wake Forest and attended fall classes, despite having to stay connected to dialysis 18 to 20 hours a day through a catheter in his stomach. He desperately needed a donor, but tests among his family members revealed no suitable match.

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