Hughes returns to sidelines after kidney transplant operation for former player
It was actually quite surprising.
Neil Hughes knew he was doing something good as he headed toward the doors of the operating room at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Sept. 15, but he may not have realized how much support he had from the Whitehall community.
“It has been just amazing,” said Hughes, who returned to the sidelines for the Railroaders’ 30-12 win over the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons Knights on Sept. 18, three days after he donated one of his kidneys to Whitehall graduate and former football team member Clinton Brown.
Hughes was met with handshakes and congratulations as he walked onto the field, and was honored by the team at halftime and presented with the game ball.
“So many people have been supportive of what we did this week,” said Hughes. “I am grateful for everyone who was concerned about Clinton and have been asking about him all day.”
Hughes said the Sept. 15 surgery to transplant his kidney into Brown was nearly flawless.
“The surgery went as planned, if not better,” said Hughes. “I woke up and the first thing I wanted to know was how he was doing, and they told me that the transplant had taken and it was already managing the fluids that it needed to.”
Hughes said the doctors kept him up to date on Brown’s condition, always receiving good news.
“By the end of the day, the kidneys were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing,” said Hughes. “I think that at the end of the first day, he was in better shape than I was.”
Brown played for Hughes during his senior season with Whitehall, the first year that Hughes was a coach. Before that season, Brown had been diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a kidney condition that required an eventual transplant.
After Brown’s mother was eliminated as a possible donor due to having a smaller kidney than what was needed for Clinton, Hughes offered to donate his earlier in the summer, finding out that he was a four-out-of-six match as a donor.
“Any closer, we would have had to be related,” said Hughes.
Hughes said the doctors advised him that he would have to make sure he lived a healthy lifestyle following the transplant, which he felt would not be a problem.
“They run a ton of tests and they really want to make sure that you can live a healthy life after you donate,” said Hughes. “I have always been doing everything they advised me to do, anyways, so I’m not that worried.”
Hughes also said they wanted to make sure that he was not emotionally hurt.
“They did a bunch of psychological tests because they said that there can be regret and depression after you go through this,” said Hughes. “They also asked if I would be concerned about the scar on my abdomen, and I said it’s not like Abercrombie is going to be calling anytime soon for me to model. They said that they wanted me to be serious, and I said that I was being serious because it really wasn’t that much of a big deal to me.”
Hughes said he wanted to be back in Whitehall for the game Saturday, even though Assistant Coach Justin Culligan took over the defensive system for the week while he was gone.
“I wanted to be back for these guys,” said Hughes.
His players appreciated it.
“We wanted to do this for coach Hughes,” said running back Evan McLaughlin. “He did something amazing and we wanted to show him how much it meant to us.”
“Our coach did something great, donating a kidney to Clinton,” said Jake Evans.