Memphis’ Assistant Coach Donates Kidney to Sister


University of Memphis Tigers' assistant coach Robert Kirby has donated one of his kidneys to his 57-year-old sister Tuesday. The 53-year-old men's assistant basketball coach will be returning to the field in the next few weeks for the start of the season, Nov. 8.

Kirby decided to donate the kidney to his sister, Virginia Kirk, because of his family's history with kidney problems. The siblings lost their mother, Ethel, 17 years ago in part due to kidney failure complications and lupus.

In 1996, their mother refused to consider her 13 children for a donor match to possibly extend her life.

However, Kirby did not want his sister to suffer the same fate as his mother.

"My mother wouldn't allow us to donate," Kirby, an assistant coach over three decades on the staff at Arkansas-Little Rock, Houston, Southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi State, Georgetown and LSU, told CBSsports. "She said she lived her life. She didn't want any of us to do that. This was my sister, and it was never a question mark if I would, but it was 'Could I?'"

Kirby said that only one kidney of his sister's was functioning properly, plus, she was experiencing renal failure.

 "She was down to one (kidney), and that one wasn't functioning very well at all. The life has come back to her," Kirby, who is in his first season with the Tigers, told Giantdaily.

Kirby and his other siblings went through a series of tests to determine a match. Both Kirby and Kirk were released from the hospital on Oct. 10.

After the procedure at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Kirby said, "The color came back in her face right away. She's doing quite well. I'm just a little sore. She was down to one, and that one wasn't functioning very well at all. The life has come back to her."

Kirk is married and has three children and five grandchildren. Kirby has two children. His wife Valerie supported his decision wholly.

Before beginning his tenure at Memphis in May, Kirby served the last season with LSU.

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