Father turns to son for kidney, assist
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
Aaron Eakins was an offensive whiz on the basketball court. When he graduated from William Blount High School in 2005, he was their all-time leading scorer. To say he could light it up is pretty accurate.
While at William Blount, he was All-County twice and All-District Tournament three times. He made several other all-tournament teams including being named the tournament MVP his senior year at the Sequoyah Christmas Classic.
Despite that scoring prowess, he was still a team player. I talked last week about a “Basketball Jones.” Aaron was definitely that kind of basketball player — a real student of the game.
Yet, he was never really known for his assists.
Phil Eakins is a 36-year employee of the Blount County Parks & Rec Department. A talented athlete in his own right, Phil was a three-sport letterman at Townsend High School in the early 70’s.
Phil lost a kidney when he was 19. He’s 58 now and really didn’t have much problems in the intervening years but had a light heart attack in 2008.
Treatment for that damaged the other kidney but it was still able to function at a 20 percent capacity.
But by early 2011, his kidney function had dropped to 16 percent and dialysis was looming. It was time to search for a donor.
As is most often the case, the best chance for a match was from Phil’s immediate family. Phil’s wife, Dena was tested first, but was not a match. However three of his children, Tommie, Melissa, and Aaron were. The decision was soon made … his son Aaron wanted to be the one to provide the kidney for his dad.
Phil began dialysis on March 20, 2012, as his kidney function continued to decrease.
His stamina suffered but he felt quite good for the most part and continued to work. While in dialysis, Phil really felt out of place.
“These people were sick. I really wasn’t. I felt like I was taking up resources that could better be used by someone else.”
At the time, Phil’s son Aaron was working for Ruby Tuesday in St. Augustine, Fla.
In June of 2012 he moved home to prep for surgery, which was performed on October 2, 2012. Phil flew thru the post-op.
That’s typical for this type of kidney transplant. However, the process was far more painful for Aaron, which is very common for the donor.
For Phil, life since he got a new kidney has been good. He has a better quality of life and feels healthier than he was at 40. He also has a very special place in his heart for people on dialysis and what they go through daily.
As for Aaron, he’s taken a job with Publix at Turkey Creek and is doing well.
He did have to explain the hole in his resume that was created by the transplant.
And he’s finally known for his assists.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)