Blacksburg man donates lifeline to father
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly named the hospital and its location. The text now reflects the correct name of the hospital and its location.
BLACKSBURG — There aren’t many bonds stronger than the one between a father and son, and Blacksburg resident Anthony Quinn Robinson went the extra mile last month to prove that.
On Jan. 8, Robinson, a graduate student at Virginia Tech and known as Blacksburg’s funny man, was dead serious as he was wheeled into surgery at the Christiana Hospital’s transplant center in Newark, Del.
Hours later, he had saved a life.
Robinson, 29, underwent surgery and donated one of his own kidneys to his dying father.
When he woke up, doctors told Robinson the surgery was a success and that his dad, Anthony Quinn Robinson Sr., was doing fine. Now, his father has a second chance at life.
Before the surgery, the elder Robinson had been experiencing problems with his energy levels, fogginess in thought and other symptoms of kidney failure. He was tested, and it was determined he was experiencing kidney failure due to chronic high blood pressure.
After changing his diet, he was able to maintain a higher kidney function, but his health continued to decline. Eventually, he had to take a leave of absence from his job as a factory employee at Proctor & Gamble, where he was working 12-hour shifts.
“I was in bed an hour after I got home from work,” he said. “It wiped me out after a 12-hour shift, and all I did was work and sleep.”
That’s because both of his kidneys were functioning at 13 percent.
“I knew when my kidneys failed, I was going,” he said.
Dialysis wasn’t an option for the 60-year-old.
Both his first wife and daughter underwent dialysis due to complications from lupus, and they eventually died of kidney failure.
The younger Robinson didn’t want to see his dad have to suffer through dialysis treatments, too.
“I’ve seen what dialysis can do to people that ultimately need transplants,” Robinson said. “If there was anything I could do to help someone avoid that process, I would do it.”
The decision wasn’t easy for him or his father.
“My dad did not want me to donate a kidney to him,” the younger Robinson said. “In his mind, I was his son, and he was worried if I would be as healthy for the rest of my life.”
After numerous phone calls and discussions, the Robinson family knew what would be done.
Robinson was ready to give a kidney to his father, should it be a match.
“That choked me up so bad,” his father said. “I wondered if I could do that for somebody. You can talk about donating, but when you’re actually giving up a kidney, that’s another story.”
The younger Robinson registered to be his donor at the beginning of 2012, and in November, they found out he was a match.
Now, a little more than a month after the surgery, the elder Robinson’s health continues to improve.
“Everything is going great,” he said. “All my numbers are great, and my body is starting to level out.”
He expects he’ll return to work in a few months, but for now he’s focused on getting his life back on track.
“I ought to get 20-25 years out of this kidney,” he said. “I’d be happy with that. Not going on dialysis and being able to live a few years longer is a blessing, period.”
He said his son stays on him about making sure he’s taking care of the kidney.
“He says, ‘Dad do this and dad do that,’ ” the elder Robinson said. “He gave up something for me, and I don’t know that I could have done it for anybody. I’m going to live like I appreciate it.”
Both the Robinsons hope their story will encourage others to lead a healthy lifestyle and at some point, consider being an organ donor.
“Anyone that has the opportunity to get tested and possibly donate a kidney to a loved one, shouldn’t hesitate,” the younger Robinson said.
“It is an experience and a bond that you will never forget, and it will only make you stronger.”
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