How Clemson and K
CLEMSON, S.C.– Keith Henry required to have a talk with his child. He had actually kept a secret from him for months due to the fact that it was football season and he didn’t wish to distract him.But the time had come for a talk following the 2021 season. Keith took his son, All-ACC Clemson protective end K.J. Henry, to the Esso Club, the most well-known facility on the Tigers’ campus, and leveled with him.
“I require a kidney transplant.”
He explained the chronic kidney disease he had actually lived with because the early 2000s and how it had actually deteriorated the performance of both kidneys to unsafe levels. K.J. sat in shock and disbelief, however he knew about one thing.
“Papa,” he stated. “I promise, we’re going to find you a kidney.” K.J. grew undaunted, and informed himself, “It’s time to get to work.”
Around the exact same time, Karen Eaton got a letter in the mail at her house in Florida from the Henry household. She, too, beinged in shocked disbelief as she read the words on the page. In the letter the Henrys sent out to friends and family across the country, they outlined the situation and let it be understood they were looking for a kidney donor.Eaton reread
the letter and had the exact same idea as K.J., numerous miles away.It was time to get to work.Now, almost a year later on, K.J. Henry will start for Clemson at the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami tonight (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), and a delighted and healthy Keith Henry will cheer from the stands. They’re here thanks to assist from Clemson colleagues and name, image and similarity dollars. They’re here thanks to assist from household. This is a story of the bonds that connect a child to his dad, and the power of family and generous giving in the most desperate time of need.
K.J. Henry embaces his moms and dads, Keith and Nicole, on Clemson’s senior day. Clemson KEITH HENRY SPENT his whole 31-year profession as an assistant football coach, the pinnacle possibly being an ACC championship at Wake Forest in 2006. As K.J. grew into an elite high school prospect in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Keith did his best to recommend his boy, and K.J. always listened.
“He ended up being a sponge on the field, off the field, in the locker space,” stated Nicole Henry, K.J.’s mommy. “He observed a lot, and he took it to heart, and he definitely did a lot with the understanding that he received from his daddy.”
However as a college coach with couple of, if any, days off, there is something Keith rarely did: see his child play in real games. That changed over the previous two years, when Keith decided to step away from training to concentrate on his health. Keith and Nicole went to every Clemson game, taking in every moment, comprehending that absolutely nothing is ever promised.When Henry recuperated a fumble versus Boston College to protect a 19-13 win last season, Keith Henry grew emotional in the stands. Not only was he there to see his child make the game-saving play, he knew what was on the horizon for him– even if his son did not. To this day, K.J. Henry calls that a person of his biggest memories, due to the fact that”I heard how pleased my parents were, how it brought my papa to tears. That was just such a cool thing to hear.”It implies much more now that K.J. understands what his father was handling at the time. After K.J. learned his father required a kidney transplant, he racked his brain trying to find out methods he might assist. Colleague Will Shipley discovered Henry seemed down and distracted in the locker room a few days later on, and pulled him aside to ask what was wrong.Henry admitted what was happening with his daddy and informed Shipley how severely he wished to do something to assist. Ultimately, the 2 hatched a strategy: They would use the brand-new NIL rules to host an autograph signing and launch a fundraiser to provide financial support for the kidney transplant and taking place medical expenses.”To be able to take my platform and assist a teammate out, that is genuinely my obligation, and I don’t take that gently at all,”Shipley stated. “When the chance presented itself with K.J., I’m going to get on it, simply try to help in any method that I can.”Cont. pic.twitter.com/MbRQEEmIp0!.?.!— KJ Henry(@thekjhenry)February 9, 2022 On Feb. 9, 2022, Henry required to social media to reveal what was happening with his father, and his strategy to assist.”That was the one time I was nervous,” Henry said.”I simply wanted to ensure that I represented him
in the very best light, No. 1. Then, No. 2, that was one hundred percent a place of’I require somebody’s help, ‘and I wasn’t comfy in that space. I wasn’t used to stating those words, and it was definitely humbling.” The donations, and assistance, started pouring in. K.J. ended up partnering with Assistance Hope Live, a company committed to assisting patients with fundraising for uninsured expenditures. In all, they have raised more than$100,000 for Keith, and K.J. stays an advocate for the organization.By the time the sign finalizing rolled around, all 350 tickets were offered and Henry had 10 colleagues by his side: Shipley, tight ends Davis Allen and Jake Briningstool, receiver Beaux Collins, quarterback Cade Klubnik, running back Phil Mafah, offending linemen Jordan McFadden and Marcus Tate, kicker B.T. Potter and
protective end Xavier Thomas.Also in attendance: Keith and Nicole Henry, and K.J.’s brother or sisters, Isaiah and Maya, noticeably overwhelmed.”K.J. is a provider and he wished to do something to assist his daddy,”Nicole stated.”We were actually astonished, appreciative and blown away when we saw how many people were lined up out the door and around the corner before they might get in just to be there for us. That was amazing.”Somebody approached Keith and asked what he thought about the event, and he stated,” Look at this. I’m full right now. My boy and their teammates did not need to do this for me or for my family. This right here takes the cake. It informs you who Clemson actually is. “In addition to players signing autographs, the Henrys likewise knew on how to end up being a kidney donor
.”People volunteering to examine their blood type to see if there was a match, it was remarkable. I indicate, it was tears of happiness, just to see the support from the Clemson family, from the players, from my family and from other donors to provide me recommendations, to support me. I genuinely thank them because I was blessed,” Keith said.The true blessings had actually only just started. Karen Eaton and Keith Henry the day after surgical treatment. Thanks To Karen Eaton IN FLORIDA, EATON made a statement to her partner, Koco, as soon as she was done reading the letter.” I’m providing Keith a kidney, “Eaton said.Her husband advised her that becoming a donor was not so simple. As a nurse, she knew that.
But as a relative– Koco andNicole Henry are cousins– she also knew she would leap through a million hoops if it meant saving Keith. “I know what it indicates when your kidneys are failing, and you have to go on dialysis,”Eaton said.” I know what that implies for Keith. I understand what that means for the Henry family, and I understand that he had a lot more living to do, and this should not be how his life went.” And I knew I might fix it.” Eaton understood she and Keith shared the very same blood type.
Eaton texted Nicole to let her know she wanted to go through the screening required to see whether she would be a match. She required to have blood drawn, and her kidneys had to be checked to make certain they were healthy enough for donation.So blood was sent to the transplant center in Charlotte.
Next, Eaton’s blood and Keith’s blood were evaluated together to see whether they worked. Keith and Eaton learned they were a match in the spring. Physicians had at first told Keith it could take 4 to five years to find a kidney. Here, he had a willing donor within months.”I dropped to my knees
, and I prayed about it, and I stated,’Lord. Thank you,’ “Keith stated.”As soon as I learnt, there’s a great deal of other things behind the scenes that you had to go through. They needed to inspect whatever. You think you’re close, however you’re not really close yet.” 1 Associated Eaton had to travel to Charlotte in early Might to undergo a complete variety of physicals
, full body tests and social work visits to make sure she remained in good enough shape to end up being a living donor. The tests lasted several days, and consisted of an EKG, a heart stress test and kidney function tests.Once she passed, a committee at the hospital in Charlotte where the surgery would happen reviewed the case to determine whether the transplant could go forward.On May 24, Keith and Eaton got the call. They were all set to schedule the transplant for July 14. From that point on, the Henrys referred to it as” Video game Day.
“Since of hospital procedures, both Keith and Eaton could just have one person with them at the health center. Nicole and Koco beinged in the waiting room as their better halves were blended off to surgery.K.J. was 2 1/2 hours down the road at Clemson doing offseason exercises, but his mind was on his daddy. In the waiting room, Nicole took excellent comfort in having her cousin with her and prayed until
the moment she had the ability to see both her husband and Eaton safe in the healing room.The following day, Keith and Eaton were able to see each other, and it was difficult not to visualize the smiles behind their masks.Keith refers to July 14 as their anniversary date.” I will always remember that day,”he says.”I texted her the other week and I stated,
‘I hope you never get tired people stating thank you or stating how much we appreciate this gift,”Nicole said.” I have said this previously, and I will state it again,”Eaton said.” Donating the kidney truly wasn’t
that huge of a deal.
I’m very healthy. I’m extremely active, and I had the ability to save somebody’s life. I wake up every early morning, and I think of Keith Henry and the Henry household, and I smile due to the fact that I like them, and I know that his life is various. I’m thrilled to be a little part of that.” Keith Henry, left, is thought about fully recuperated from his kidney transplant. He and Nicole Henry were on hand for K.J. Henry’s senior day at Clemson. Clemson THOUGH KEITH FELT an immediate difference in the days after the surgery, the first two months of recovery were especially uncomfortable, filled with repeated journeys to the medical professional, blood draws and evaluates to ensure his brand-new kidney was working appropriately. After three months, he was cleared to start exercising, and he is now thought about totally recovered from the surgery.In October, the Eatons drove to Tallahassee to reunite with the Henrys for the Clemson-Florida State game. It was the first time they had actually seen each other since the surgical treatment. “He looked great, and that made me so happy,”Eaton said.Senior Day in November took on even greater significance. As K.J. prepared to run down the hill to the field, Nicole told herself,’Don’t cry, Do not sob.’ But as K.J. came in for his hug with tears in his eyes, Nicole stated she” unsightly wept”on his shoulder. Keith swelled with pride.” I do not take anything for granted
,”Keith Henry said. “It’s been great that I have actually had the true blessing
to go see him the last 2 years, and I would not take that back. I would not take it back if I had to.”For K.J., seeing his parents waiting on him only strengthened why he did what he did for his father, a full-circle moment thinking about everything his moms and dads have done for him.
“I’m expected to take care of the people around me that love me, “K.J. stated.”It doesn’t matter if I’m playing at Clemson. Wherever I can assist is where I need to help. That’s who [my parents] raised me to be. All the work they have actually put into me and love throughout the years has actually just been reciprocated back.”