Coach Joe Redmond’s son gives him the gift of life this holiday season
By Charles Moseley
I think it would be fair to assume that most people would prefer getting their birthday presents and Christmas gifts on separate occasions. How-ever in the case of one very fortunate dad, I am equally sure that in this particular case this gift could not have come at a more opportune moment.
A little over two weeks ago one of South Florida’s most highly acclaimed high school football coaches was on the receiving end of a very special gift from his son. The coach turned out to be Joseph Redmond and the gift he received turned out to be the gift of life in the form of a new kidney donated by his 42-year-old son, Jason.
The transplant surgery was performed on Tuesday, Dec. 10, three days following Coach Redmond’s weekend birthday celebration. Jason said that his dad would just have to be satisfied with getting just one present this year to cover both occasions. At last word according to Jason, he had not received any com-plaints from his dad.
“When I found out he was on dialysis and learned he needed a kidney I went to get tested. And that was that. It was all downhill from there.”
“I told him this is your birth-day present and your Christmas gift, so don’t expect a birthday present and a Christmas pre-sent. This is for both,” added Jason.
The operation was a success. Their prognosis is good. Both Coach Redmond and his son appear to be on their way back to resuming their lives with their families. Jason returned to his home in Durham, North Carolina where he lives with his wife Dominique and their two children, Jalon and Dacia.
“All our vitals are fine. I go three days a week for lab work and they keep track of everything. Other than that everything is going fine. I just have to eat more because I take so much medication. It’s a whole new routine for me to be honest. Any meats that I eat have to be cooked to a temperature of 140 degrees and any fresh vegetables have to be washed three times. My wife makes sure that I’m taken good care of.”
Coach Redmond’s wife, Michelle, has been by his side through all of the ups and downs which come with being a part of a family. She said that as a wife she had to be there for her husband during his darkest moments, especially when he faced adversity due to his failing health. She shared a few thoughts from the perspective of a spouse of someone who had faced a life or death situation in their lives.
“First of all I would say to trust and believe in God, for he is the author and finisher of everyone’s life. There are obstacles that come into every-one’s life. When you are the spouse of someone that has met challenges that my husband has met they rely on you for strength. So at times of crisis you have to be strong for that individual. It has not been a walk in the park but my faith in God has allowed me to withstand and to stand so that I could support him in every obstacle that he could have come up against.”
Coach Redmond said he began to experience health issues about five years ago related to hypertension which he says ran in his family.
“Hypertension runs in the family. I was one of those kids who was hard headed. I had hypertension for a long time and I really just ignored it. I had a doctor that prescribed something for it and it really affected my kidney so one thing led to another on that. I also had some trouble with my heart, minor stuff and all of this led to me winding up taking dialysis. I took dialysis for two years and nobody knew it but my wife and that’s about it. Instead of taking care of me, I was trying to take care of somebody else, related to football probably.”
Despite his growing health issues Coach Redmond says he fought taking care of his health and instead continued focusing on issues relating to coaching high school student athletes at Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale.
“My priorities were as they always had been: God, family, and football.”
His primary doctor told him that he had to take dialysis. His doctor told him, “either you are going to take dialysis or you’re going to die.”
Redmond then started taking self- administered dialysis known as hemodialysis treatment for eight hours at home, every night for the last two years.
“I would hook up at around eight o’clock at night and be finished around five o’clock every morning.”
Amazingly Coach Redmond was able to continue his coaching duties as the head foot-ball coach at Stranahan High School with some slight altercations being handled by his assistant coaches. He finally announced his retirement from coaching earlier this year after 38 years in coaching on the high school as well as collegiate level, due to health issues.
Things were going well with the treatment for a while. Redmond would get his blood checked every two weeks. One day Redmond’s grandson who was visiting him saw his grandfather giving himself dialysis and asked what he was doing. Redmond explained the procedure to his 14-year-old grandson, Jalon, who later told his dad, (Redmond’s son) when he returned home from vacation.
Redmond’s wife, Michelle, had earlier offered to donate her kidney but found out it was not a match for her husband.
Without hesitation Redmond’s son said he would donate his kidney and went to get tested to see if his kidney would be a suitable match for his dad. The test results revealed that it did.
“My son said you know what I’ll give you one. I was very flattered and I said think about it. He said there wasn’t anything to think about. I was truly blessed because the first time around it was a match. If I had to wait for a kidney on the donors list it may have been one or two years before I became eligible for a transplant.”
“This is something I wanted to really get over with. I didn’t want this to hurt him, but I also wanted to live at the same time.”
Football has always been a mainstay in Redmond’s life, both as a former high school and college quarterback as well as coach on the high school and collegiate levels.
Ironically, Coach Redmond recalled that his son was born during a football game while his wife, Michelle, was in the stands watching the game.
“My son was born in the stands at a football game when I was coaching at the University of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a rival game between Ypisilapat High School and Ann Arbor High where I coached. It all worked out since the pediatrician was sitting right next to my wife. His son also played on the team.”
“Jason has always been around football. He was a ball boy; he played for me. Whenever you looked up and saw me you would see him. So he was a special boy,” added Redmond.
Now the bond that dad and son have shared over the years has grown even stronger; strengthened by a selfless gesture performed by a son, to give his dad a gift that money can’t buy, based on the unconditional love between a father and a son.