A life-saving story behind Baylor’s Remaining 4 run: How a kidney donor on Bears workers helped a buddy in want


INDIANAPOLIS — Contemplate Baylor basketball. What do you see? Most likely the person answerable for its reinvention, coach Scott Drew. The No. 1-seeded Bears are within the Remaining 4 for the primary time in 71 years. And whereas Drew is the face and affable pressure that is introduced Baylor to the brink of historic achievement, it takes lots of people to make one thing so vital. 

Faculty basketball groups — good ones, at the very least — are likely to perform like households. Big households, however households nonetheless. There’s love and tolerance, familiarity and forgiveness, agitation and acceptance. Each staff has just a few individuals — the top coach and a few star gamers — who obtain the lion’s share of the eye and the credit score. Reality is, each nice program wants many nice individuals as a way to do nice issues.

This contains sports activities data administrators. The great ones are accommodating. The good ones are selfless, tireless. Diplomats of the sport. They offer extra of themselves than their applications would possibly even deserve. They’re typically overworked, missed and extra precious than their paycheck suggests.

And so they are likely to keep away from the highlight. Sports activities data administrators (SIDs) shun consideration, often, as a result of it is their job to be liaisons to the media. SIDs are the individuals accountable for serving to share the tales of the individuals at their applications. When you’ve ever come throughout a narrative on a web site, in a newspaper or on TV that you just beloved, there is a good likelihood an SID was a part of making that story occur. 

Which brings us to Baylor SID David Kaye, the spirit and stabilizing pressure behind the Bears males’s basketball staff. This is not about him serving to to safe an interview or configuring a press convention. That is about giving a human being an opportunity to outlive, to be a father and husband.  

“He is somebody I’ve nice respect for,” Drew stated. “An amazing buddy, a servant.”

That is about saving one other man’s life. 

“The very first thing he requested was, ‘What can I do?'” 

That is Kevin speaking about his buddy David. Kevin Barrera and David Kaye have recognized one another since 2005, after they have been each Baylor college students. Kaye was an intern within the communications division, whereas Barrera was a coach’s assistant for the baseball staff. They’d go to Baylor video games collectively as undergrads, taking highway journeys to see Large 12 soccer. In 2008, they sat within the nosebleeds at Texas A&M for Baylor’s first recreation as a ranked staff below Drew: an epic five-overtime 116-110 victory vs. the Aggies. David and Kevin have solely grown nearer since.  

“When you’re given a direct alternative to assist somebody, you are obligated to do this,” David stated. 

Barrera was identified at 30 as a Sort 2 diabetic. This was found after he tore the labrum in his hip, which required surgical procedure, just for the medical doctors to run blood assessments and spot abnormally excessive blood sugar ranges. Hip surgical procedure was postponed and the course of his life modified. That course took a steep flip 4 years later, in October 2019, when Barrera checked his personal blood strain to see a disturbingly excessive studying — one thing within the neighborhood of 220/120, he recalled. His kidney-function ranges have been drastically out of vary. Barrera was advised he was in Stage 5 of kidney illness (renal failure). Diabetes was ravaging a few of his organs. Kidneys filter out the toxins within the blood, and his principally weren’t, inflicting some organs to interrupt down.

He’d must go on dialysis, and he’d want a kidney transplant quickly sufficient as properly. By late March 2020, simply because the pandemic secured a grip on the globe, he was accredited for that transplant. However who may or not it’s? Kevin was 35 on the time. His spouse was a match, however because of a historical past of high-blood strain, she wasn’t a candidate. 

David was. Their blood varieties (A+) matched (a requirement) and David was wholesome sufficient in all different sides to be a donor. Kevin delivered the information of his situation to David at certainly one of their favourite lunch spots, Guess Household Barbecue, a few weeks prior. Internally, David knew what needed to be finished. 

“I do not know that we implicitly talked about it, however I knew what he was going to do,” Emily Kaye, David’s spouse, stated. “I knew he was going to enroll. That is who David is. Kevin’s certainly one of his closest associates. Kevin was in our wedding ceremony, they have been associates ever since David acquired again house from deployment. I believe our full dialog about it was three minutes.”

Deployment. That is one other a part of David’s story. Wait a minute.

Again to Guess Household Barbecue. 

David took out his telephone over lunch and nonchalantly registered to be a kidney donor proper in entrance of Kevin. 

“The very first thing I felt was shock,” Barrera stated. “How easy it was for him to take his telephone and simply apply. My intentions weren’t to go there and inform him, ‘Do you thoughts making use of for me?’ That is such a private difficulty. Being an organ donor, that is not straightforward. You are sacrificing certainly one of your organs for another person.”

Kaye sees it utterly the opposite approach, and his background informs {that a} bit. He is a person of sacrifice and, like most SIDs, wired to think about others first.  

Baylor SID David Kaye throughout his time serving whereas in Afghanistan within the mid-2000s.
David Kaye

David and Emily met after being guilted right into a blind date arrange by a mutual school professor. The catch: this occurred in 2006 when David was on two-week house depart whereas serving a tour of responsibility in Afghanistan. Emily knew after the primary date she was going to marry him. They wedded in July 2008. Kaye was impressed to serve his nation after the 9/11 assaults occurred throughout his senior of highschool. After appeasing his mother and father by going by means of his freshman 12 months at Baylor, he signed up for the Military Reserve. For 2 summers Kaye went by means of coaching (whereas nonetheless an undergrad at BU) then took the aptitude take a look at and nailed it with an ideal rating — a 99. 

He constructed infrastructure for communications networks throughout wartime, working as a specialist within the August oven of Kuwait. The wind blows and it is a hairdryer. Sand flying makes it really feel such as you’re taking over oil spatters from a frying pan. After Kuwait, Kaye was posted within the snowy, rugged mountains of Afghanistan. He served a 12 months’s value of deployment earlier than returning to complete his diploma at Baylor.

Straightforward to see why a kidney donation was a easy act for the person. 

“Most individuals can survive on dialysis for some time, and it may appear urgent for some individuals, however there’s a big want,” David stated. “You’ll be able to nonetheless donate and nonetheless reside a superbly regular life. It is not that vast of a sacrifice.” 

Dying additionally loomed heavy on this resolution. Not simply Kevin’s life, however a life that was now not there. Kevin misplaced somebody who would have been a possible match; certainly one of his brothers was killed in an vehicle accident just a few years prior. 

“It was all the time with me: Matthew would have finished this for him, had he been there,” David stated. 

Then there was Kevin’s spouse, Stephanie. Their boys, Aaron and Aiden. 

“Kevin has youngsters, two of them, and the thought … David thought, I can not watch my good buddy undergo this,” Emily stated.

Signing up was not even a debate. The query was: Would David be a match?

“The day when David went to fulfill and speak with Kevin, he got here house and stated, ‘I did join,'” Emily stated. “He checked out me and stated, ‘I’ll be the match, I do know it.'” 

Did not take lengthy for that flip to be true. And although Kevin had time, he did not have numerous time. The common dialysis affected person can reside for about 5 years earlier than not having a brand new kidney can show deadly. These in want of kidneys are on the waitlist for 3-5 years on common, Barrera stated, as a result of it stays a high-demand situation (thus the necessity for dialysis facilities). Kevin’s scenario was a bit extra pressing. Had David not been a match, and had he gone on the wait checklist, the interlude would have upped his danger for survival. 

“You continue to should be grounded slightly bit since you do not wish to get your hopes up,” Barrera stated. “David’s a wholesome man, however you retain your feelings grounded. When somebody does that, it is such a selfless act. He would not prefer it, however I inform him he is my hero on a regular basis and he laughs it off. Nevertheless it’s really how I really feel. My sons, they love him. My spouse and his spouse have develop into good associates over this.”

Surgical procedure was accredited by the center of Might and scheduled for June 3. David wasn’t settling at being Kevin’s donor. He splurged and purchased a Peloton and rode it day by day till the morning of their surgical procedures. 

Kidney-donation surgical procedure often occurs like this: the donor arrives on the hospital first and has their kidney eliminated. The organ is inspected and cleared for switch, after which the recipient goes below to obtain the transplant. For David and Kevin, this occurred in the midst of a worsening pandemic, which made the method a bit lonelier. 

Emily and Stephanie have been allowed to remain within the ready room, simply them, they usually did for 12 hours till they needed to depart the hospital. They prayed all through the morning, afternoon and night. It took Kevin longer than anticipated to depart isolation restoration, which added to the stress and fear. Baylor’s coaches texted for updates. 

However ultimately, each males have been cleared. The transplant was a hit. They weren’t allowed to go to one another of their rooms due to COVID-19, however the nurses who got here to study their story organized for them to take a stroll on the similar time within the hospital hallway. With one room between them, the primary time David acquired as much as stroll, he peeked in and noticed his buddy from 20 toes away. 

David and Kevin have been allowed to stroll collectively after donation surgical procedure proved profitable.
David Kaye

“You possibly can discover his pores and skin tone was instantly higher,” David stated. “We each checked out one another and there was this massive smile. We’re each taking a look at one another for the primary time. We all know: hey we’re each doing nice.” 

They have been holding IV poles and walkers briefly time. Previous associates trying like previous males.

“You do not understand how sick somebody is once you see them on a steady foundation,” Emily stated. “It may be a shock to look again and understand, wow, they have been actually sick. However I am going to always remember, the subsequent morning I come into the hospital … I hadn’t realized how grey and the way sick Kevin had been. However in a single day, his pores and skin was pink and seemed wholesome once more. To see that transformation so rapidly, it was overwhelming. Stephanie got here out within the hallway and we have been bawling, hugging one another.” 

Diabetes gave him a foul pancreas, too. After we spoke on Tuesday — the one-year anniversary of being accredited for a kidney transplant — he was every week faraway from receiving a brand new pancreas. Usually these in want of a kidney and pancreas attempt to obtain each in the identical surgical procedure, however receiving a kidney from a reside donor statistically lengthens the lifespan of the recipient.  

“I would not be the place I am at with out him proper now,” Barrera stated. “I’m not exaggerating. Once I went into the hospital in October 2019, I might have died by the top of the 12 months. I’ve no query about that.”

Kevin expects to reside a traditional life now. He’ll have his new pancreas (acquired from a deceased donor) for about eight years. Kaye’s left kidney, now in Kevin, will final for 20 years, or at the very least that is the hope. Docs advised Kevin his two kidneys have been performing at roughly 10% capability previous to the transplant. Now David’s is “selecting up the slack for the opposite two,” as he put it. 

David did not push for this story to be advised. There was some gentle coercion to get him to take action, and he agreed in an effort to lift consciousness over how straightforward it’s to be a donor, and why individuals shouldn’t shrink back from serving to others. Somebody out there’s in want proper now. You is perhaps the one who might help save them. 

“I am much more of a personal individual,” stated Emily, “however particularly on this, if it demystifies the method for any individual else and another person would think about being a reside donor due to listening to it isn’t as dramatic because it sounds, then it is value it to speak about.”

And Kevin is flourishing. His voice was stuffed with gratefulness after we spoke earlier this week. David has been in a bubble-type existence for nearly a month, however as quickly as this NCAA Event run ends for Baylor, it is going to be time for the chums to reunite and have a good time as soon as extra. 

“I believe greater than something, organ donors are a godsend,” Barrera stated. “I do not know every other approach to say it. It is such a selfless act that they do.” 

Final summer time the Barrera household took a visit to the Gulf of Mexico. Stephanie took a photograph of him swimming within the water along with his two boys. He despatched it to David. I do know that is corny, however I would not be within the water with my boys with out you. Thanks. 

“We’re a household at this level,” Emily stated. “I 100% know if the roles had been reversed and Kevin was wholesome and had one thing to offer to assist David, it could have been the identical the opposite approach round. I am grateful after we look again on this time, we have one thing fantastic to mark what was a extremely laborious season.”

There is a barely crooked four-inch scar simply above David’s waistline that can endlessly function a logo of what he represents to so might individuals. Servant, steward, soldier — loyal buddy. 

Months after the surgical procedure, the Kayes and Barreras have been handled to a meal on the home at Guess Household Barbecue — the place have been David signed as much as be a donor.
Kevin Barrera



Leave a Reply