Giving One for The Team: Wake Forest's Tom Walter Makes Sacrifice

Feb. 8, 2011

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Wake Forest's slogan for the baseball team in 2011 is "What are you willing to sacrifice to help make this team better?"

Head coach Tom Walter's intent was to have his players thinking about sacrifice bunts, moving runners over, and giving up personal glory to help the Demon Deacons improve as a team.

But what Walter chose to sacrifice is greater than simply hanging in on a curve ball and taking one for the team.

Walter gave up a kidney.

In a procedure performed Monday (Feb. 7) at the Emory Transplant Center in Atlanta, Walter had one of his kidneys removed and donated to Kevin Jordan, a freshman member of the Wake Forest baseball team.

Dr. Kenneth Newell, the lead surgeon on the team that removed Walter's kidney, was pleased with the procedures.

"Both surgeries went very well," said Dr. Newell. "We are pleased with how each patient is progressing. We expect each will recover fully."

Jordan suffers from ANCA vasculitis, a type of autoimmune swelling caused by autoantibodies. The immune system produces normal antibodies to fight infection in the body. However, an autoantibody is an abnormal antibody that attacks a person's own cells. ANCA stands for Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Autoantibody and when these autoantibodies are present in the kidneys, it causes a leaking of blood and protein into the urine and eventually results in kidney failure.

Jordan was initially diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis in April of 2010. An all-city baseball player in Columbus, Ga., Jordan had signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Wake Forest in November, 2009, prior to his senior season. Jordan was one of the first prospects that Walter contacted after being hired as Wake Forest's head coach in June, 2009. That October, Jordan finished second in the Bo Jackson 5-Tool Championship, ( an event held at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. that measures a player's ability to hit, hit with power, run, throw and field. Wagner Mateo of the Dominican Republic won the event and signed a $500,000 free agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jordan finished second overall to Mateo and won the home run portion of the competition with six homers. He signed with Wake Forest just weeks later.

"Kevin is one of the most highly touted players in the country," said Walter at the time that Jordan signed. "He possesses game-changing speed and plus power. He is the kind of offensive talent that opposing coaches have to manage around. He will be an impact player from the moment he sets foot on campus." Jordan's decision to sign with Wake Forest was the result of a solid recruiting effort by Walter and his coaching staff.

"We got a meeting with Coach Walter and one of the things we did, like everybody does, is go to the internet and look up (his) name and get some background," said Keith Jordan, Kevin's father. "I think the two things that really, really sold us on Coach (Walter) and Wake Forest, was when we met him, you can look a person in the eye and see if they really mean what they say and say what they mean. You could see that in him. Also, when we went to the internet and saw some of the things that happened in New Orleans and how he worked with the team and the players and the comments that were coming back from some of the people. But, again, the third was just about Wake Forest itself. The background, the family-oriented atmosphere. We really felt good when we went to the school. I don't think we had that many long conversations but they were probably the most meaningful conversations that you can have. My wife was almost sold immediately. Those things really played an important part of our decision and Kevin's decision-making."

Donating a kidney was not Walter's first experience with adversity. In August, 2005, Walter welcomed a 22-member recruiting class as he and his staff sought to rebuild the University of New Orleans baseball program. Five days later Hurricane Katrina raced through Louisiana and Mississippi, leaving a path of destruction.

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