There’s no doubting just how far people’s love for their team can go, especially NFL teams. Yet some fans find a way to put their affiliation aside for certain reasons, and this is a pretty damn good one.
Last year, 44-year-old David Parsons found out that his neighbor Kevin Graessle was in need of a kidney transplant, and didn’t hesitate stepping up and offering to be a donor. Of course, finding a match for yourself can be hard enough, but the odds your next door neighbor would be a match? What are the chances.
The 54-year-old Grassele is a former United States Marine who was unfortunately diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 23.
Parsons met the first requirement – having O+ or O- blood – and decided to see if he would ultimately be a match.
Kevin quoted, “It’s the first time I ever crossed the situation in my life where I actually knew someone who needed a kidney transplant. I think a number of people would do it, but it’s just that they don’t come into contact with someone who needs a kidney. To save someone’s life, it seemed like something I should be willing to do for a short-term inconvenience, so to speak, of going through the surgery and recovery process.”
But befoire any exchange could take place, David, the self-proposed donor, had to undergo a plethora of medical examinations and tests to determine if he was suitable to provide a kidney. Those tests began late 2015.
According to the New England Patriots, the two, who said they were previously just acquaintances in their Marietta, Ga., neighborhood, drove to the hospital together for the initial round of testing.
“It was a Monday morning so we were talking about football, coming off the NFL games on Sunday,” David noted. “Of course, Kevin mentioned that he was a Giants fan, and I said I was a Patriots fan. Due to the Super Bowls over the past few years, he had a few good laughs about that.” A couple weeks after their football loyalties were revealed, there was another discovery; the pair found out that David was in fact a match for the transplant.
“There were quite a few people who responded to my wife’s Facebook post [about the need for a kidney donor] and they all wanted to get tested,” Kevin added. “But David was the first one to get tested and the first one to come back as a match, which was just amazing in and of itself.”
As the surgery date of February 5th approached, Kevin and David’s wives grew closer to each other, and sparked an idea to add a little humor to their husband’s situations.
“When we found out that David was a match and everything, the wives decided to name the kidney ‘The Gronk’ after Gronkowski,” Kevin recalled with a laugh. “We were trying to keep it on the lighter side, the whole transplant experience, and it really took off.”
They had a stuffed kidney with ‘Gronk’ written on it and even posed for a photo at the hospital, both wearing the tight end’s jersey.
David added that he was “flattered” that they found inspiration in the Pats, but wasn’t sure how he would have felt if the roles were reversed.
“I don’t think I could name somebody else’s kidney – if I needed one – Manning,” he joked. “I just couldn’t do it.”
As for Kevin, who said he is feeling “great,” he was simply thankful that David came forward. “There was no hesitation on his part,” Kevin explained. “It was just a selfless act.” He added with a laugh, “When a donor steps up and he’s a Patriots fan and the kidney is named Gronk, who am I to say no?”