by: Cadence Walke

From setting up team dinners to helping behind the scenes during games, Godwin parents sacrifice countless hours to show their appreciation for the students and coaches involved in Godwin’s top-notch athletic programs. One parent in particular went above and beyond to show her appreciation for our coaches. 

Tammy Wright, mother to volleyball player and student Jamie Wright and Godwin volleyball alumna, Carmen Wright, donated her kidney on Dec. 27th 2022 to a very special recipient. 

Godwin girls volleyball coach, Chris Wakefield, had been battling kidney disease since the young age of 13. Wakfield has a large influence on Wright’s daughters’ volleyball careers and has been a special part of the Wright family for years.” It was very special to be able to help Coach Wakefield!  He means a lot to our family and I was really happy to be able to help change his life. Because we have known Wakefield for so long, we saw his health gradually decline. He was getting very sick and I knew that if I was a match I needed to help!” said Wright.  

As his condition worsened and put more limitations on his day to day, Wright, with the help of other Godwin parents, set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for a transplant, but more importantly to bring awareness to his situation. 

After many prospective donors and plans seemed to fall through, Wright decided to step up and see if she was eligible to donate. “He had a lot of prospects but nothing was panning out and he was becoming sicker and sicker and we would especially see this while we were traveling all over to vball tournaments. It was really taking a toll on him. I actually had focused on helping get people kidney aware but I hadn’t even gotten tested. So, after seeing him get sick again at a tournament, I then went to Amazon and got a blood type test sent.” said Wright. 

After taking an at home blood test and undergoing many medical tests, she discovered her blood type was a perfect match with Wakefield. 

“I had to go through many medical tests to see if I was eligible to donate. Of course there are the obvious ones, like blood typing, tissue typing, and cross-matching. Once those are a match then you go through different tests to make sure you are a healthy candidate for donation. I feel no different with one kidney than when I had two. I also have no medical or dietary restrictions with only one kidney,” says Wright. 

Donating a vital and necessary organ can come with many implications and bring forth many fear factors. 

 “I had hesitations, it’s a big surgery and a very scary decision.  The doctors at the Hume Lee Transplant Center at VCU are wonderful, but as I passed each step of the process it got scarier and scarier. I decided that if I passed all the testing then it was meant for me to do it,” said Wright. 

Fortunately, the procedure went smoothly and both parties returned to their normal lives in no time. 

“I stayed in the hospital 2 nights and Wakefield only 3 nights. It is amazing how quick the recovery is. I felt myself about a week after the surgery. I was on lifting restrictions for 6 weeks, but that is it. It is even surprising to me how quick and easy the recovery was. The surgery was on a Tuesday and Wakefield’s team had a tournament at the convention center the very next Sat-Mon and he coached the whole tournament.” said Wright. 

This procedure took place with the help of the Da Vinci robot and the VCU Hume Lee Transplant team. This machine makes the recovery process quicker and makes the surgery less invasive to the body. 

Wright reflects on the surgery and shows no regrets with her decision. “I am so happy that I made the hard decision to give a kidney to Chris. I see him now and see how healthy he looks. It is so awesome to know that I changed his life for the better and my life has not negatively been affected by donating.” said Wright 

After bringing awareness to Wakefield’s condition, and making efforts to not only help his condition, but others struggling, Wright shares a piece of information for anyone considering donating. “I would definitely recommend others to consider donating. Living with one kidney can be perfectly healthy.” said Wright. 

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