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Wake Forest coach gives player kidneyEmail Print Comments21 ESPN.com news services

Wake Forest freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan needed a kidney transplant. None of his family members was a suitable match for a donation.

That's when his coach, Tom Walter, stepped in.


[+] EnlargeBrian Westerholt/Sports on Film
Wake Forest freshman Kevin Jordan has received a kidney transplant thanks to his coach.
Both men are recovering at Emory Hospital in Atlanta after Walter donated a kidney to Jordan on Monday. The lead surgeon on the operation, Dr. Kenneth Newell, said the surgeries went well and that both men are expected to make full recoveries.

"When we recruit our guys, we talk about family and making sacrifices for one another," Walter said before the operation, according to USA Today. "It is something we take very seriously. I had the support of my family, Wake Forest and my team. To me it was a no-brainer."

Jordan, who was selected by the New York Yankees in the 19th round of last year's amateur draft, became ill last January, after he had committed to Wake Forest.

Jordan was diagnosed with a rare condition in which abnormal antibodies were causing his white blood cells to attack healthy tissue in his body. It left his kidneys functioning at 8 percent. He still attended Wake Forest for the fall semester, despite needing 18 to 20 hours of daily home dialysis.


When none of Jordan's family members was found to be a suitable match for the transplant he needed, Walter had himself tested -- a complex process that takes five weeks. At the end of the process, Walter was found to be a strong match.

Walter found out he was a match on Jan. 28 and told the team three days later about his decision to donate. That didn't surprise Wake Forest senior outfielder Steven Brooks one bit, according to Baseball America.

"The Tom Walter I know has been a very stand-up man at all times," Brooks said, according to Baseball America. "When he made a commitment to Kevin, he did it for good and bad. It may be eye-opening for other people, but not for me because that's just the kind of guy he is."

Walter came to Wake Forest in 2009 after the University of New Orleans, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, downgraded its baseball program to Division III. He's expected to be discharged Thursday and hopes to rejoin the Demon Deacons for their Feb. 18 season opener at LSU.

"If [Jordan] makes it back to the playing field, that would be a great story. But I just want him to have a normal life and have the chance to be a normal college student," Walter said, according to USA Today.

Kevin Jordan is taking the semester off to recover from the surgery. He hopes to begin light workouts later this spring and return to Wake Forest this summer, his father, Keith Jordan, told Baseball America.

Keith Jordan said there's no way to describe what Walter's decision means to his family, according to Baseball America.

"It's like divine intervention when you look at everything that happened and how we even got to Wake Forest," Jordan said, according to Baseball America. "And then to meet a coach like coach Walter and look at some of the things he had been through and done, and then to now do this, you just can't express it in words."