Former NFL Player Albert Haynesworth Is Looking For A New Kidney — And He's Running Out Of Time

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Who Is Albert Haynesworth? New Details On The Former NFL Player Looking For a New Kidney
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Former NFL defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said he has been battling kidney disease for a few years now. This past Sunday, his kidneys officially failed him. This isn’t his first health battle: in 2014, he suffered two brain aneurysms that nearly killed him. Doctors aren’t absolutely certain football caused it, but they know it definitely didn’t help.

How did Haynesworth get to this point? (And do you by any chance have a spare kidney lying around?) Who is Albert Haynesworth?

1. He started out at the University of Tennessee.

In the 2002 NFL draft, he was the Tennessee Titans’ 15th pick in the first round. As their defensive tackle, he recorded 24 sacks in seven seasons. In the 2009 off-season, Haynesworth was an unrestricted free agent. He signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins despite being offered more money by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2. He’s got…quite the suspension record.

It looks like it all started in a game against the Cowboys in October of 2006, when center player Andre Gurode fell to the ground and Haynesworth removed his helmet and tried to stomp on his head. He missed, but opened a severe wound on Gurode’s forehead. Haynesworth was assessed a 15-yard conduct penalty, which he protested by throwing his own helmet into the turf, which in turn cost him an additional 15-yard penalty, ultimate ejection from the game, and suspension from five games without pay.

In September of 2007, in the season opener against the Jaguars, he slammed running back Maurice Jones-Drew to the ground after a tackle. He was fined $5,000.

Then, after signing with the Redskins in 2009, he presented a host of issues for the coaching staff: refusing to participate in off-season workouts, failing to pass a basic fitness test, missing practices. Even after being signed to the New England Patriots in 2011, he got into a confrontation with assistant Pepper Johnson on the sidelines.

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3. Nevertheless, there’s been an outpouring of support for his recovery.

Since his public post on Instagram just yesterday, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received more than 1,000 “calls and offers for organ donation from well-wishers and individuals expressing interest,” according to chief communications officer John Howser. This volume of response is impressive, but it’ll be more telling if any one of them end up meeting the requirements to even be considered a donor: individuals have to meet specific physical stipulations, as well as be able to travel to and remain in the Nashville area for a period of time.

4. He was lucky doctors even found his brain aneurysms.

In 2014, he’d spent 11 days in intensive care after surgery to fix two brain aneurysms that would have killed him if they’d continued to go untreated. It was just a routine physical that picked up on his dangerously high blood pressure. More tests were done and they revealed the presence of two aneurysms in blood vessels in his brain. He says doctors told him they were close to rupturing. “I don’t want to blame it on football, and I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, it didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve been OK. It’s really hard to remember, and I’m not saying that just because of the concussion thing. A lot of things, I just can’t remember. I don’t feel as sharp as I used to as far as problem-solving and answering questions and things. It sounds crazy, but sometimes, writing my own name, I kind of forget the signature of how I normally write. Or sending long texts, my words get backwards. It’s crazy, but hopefully as time goes on, I get better.”

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5. What happens in kidney failure?

Albert Haynesworth needs a new kidney because he is in kidney failure. The kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the body. According to Temple Health, when your kidneys fail "your hands or feet may swell. You will feel tired and weak because your body needs clean blood to function properly. Untreated uremia may lead to seizures or coma and will ultimately result in death. If your kidneys stop working completely, you will need to undergo dialysis or kidney transplantation."

6. Donated kidneys

Albert Haynesworth is in complete kidney failure and needs a transplant. Donated kidneys can come in from a relative, living person, or a donor who has recently died. Wherever the kidney comes from it must be a good match for the body. The more the new kidney is like the patient, the less likely the immune system is to reject it. According to Temple Health: "Your immune system protects you from disease by attacking anything that is not recognized as a normal part of your body. So your immune system will attack a kidney that appears too “foreign.” You will take special drugs to help trick your immune system so it does not reject the transplanted kidney."

For help navigating the challenges of kidney disease, organ donation, and transplantation call 1-855-653-2273.

Leah Scher is an ENFP finishing her degree at Brandeis University. She's an alumna of the Kenyon Review Young Writer's Workshop the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. She's passionate about Judaism, poetry, film, satire, astrology, spirituality, and sexual health.