ATLANTA - For Tom Walter, the decision was a no-brainer.
The Wake Forest baseball coach considers his players to be like family. So, naturally, when one was stricken with a rare disease that caused his kidneys to shut down, Walter offered up one of his own.
Turns out, Walter was a match for freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan. The two of them underwent surgery together this week at Atlanta's Emory Hospital, where a healthy kidney was transplanted into Jordan's ailing body. Both are recovering nicely and expect to be released within days.
Walter said Wednesday he doesn't consider himself a hero; he just tried to do the right thing. But Jordan says there will always be a special bond between player and coach. He put it this way, "Part of his body is in me now."
A star outfielder at Northside High School in Columbus, Jordan was ranked the No. 43 prospect in the country by one recruiting service, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. In the June 2010 draft, the New York Yankees selected him in the 19th round.
Earlier, Walter said the "best-case scenario is that Kevin and I just lead a normal life" but added that the great story will come when Jordan "makes it back to the playing field."
Jordan had trouble shaking the flu last winter as a high school senior in Columbus, Ga., and lost 20 pounds. Doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta discovered his kidney was functioning at only 15 to 20 percent.
He was diagnosed last April with ANCA vasculitis, a type of autoimmune swelling disorder caused by abnormal antibodies. When those abnormalities show up in the kidneys, they can cause blood and protein to leak into the urine and could result in kidney failure.
He wound up on dialysis - three days a week at first, and then daily. Family members were tested to see if any were a possible match for a transplant, and Walter was tested in December after it was determined that his relatives weren't compatible.
Walter found out Jan. 28, during the team's first practice of the spring semester, that he was a match. He told the team three days later, and said the players greeted the news with "stunned silence followed by a round of applause."
"A lot of things had to come together for it to happen," Keith Jordan said. "Everybody wants a feel-good story wherever they can get it."
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