Father, son back home after kidney transplant

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

An employee of McClean Construction Company, Robert Bagley has helped build a multitude of bridges. He didn’t know that the hardest one he’d ever have to erect wouldn’t be for cars.

Last August, Bagley’s son Juwann Blazzard was about to start his senior year at Lakeland High School. While gearing up for football season, the youngster came down with what seemed like a virus.

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&uot;I just felt sick,&uot; Juwann said. &uot;It wasn’t like a cold, I was throwing up and sleeping a lot.&uot;

Juwann went to his family doctor, who took some blood and prescribed some nausea medication. A few minutes after the family returned to their Lake Kennedy home, the doctor was on the phone.

&uot;He didn’t say what was wrong,&uot; said Bagley’s mother Heloise. &uot;He told us to take Juwann to the hospital right now.&uot;

They went to Obici, and Juwann was given IVs and some more tests. Eventually, it came out that his red blood cell count was dangerously low, and that he was in renal failure. Both of his kidneys were gone, and his entire body was poisoned. Juwann was given a catheter to cleanse his blood, and put on dialysis.

Even so, he still managed to finish out his Cavalier athletic career – he took first in the Southeastern District and second in the state in the high jump, and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player by his teammates.

&uot;Track is my life,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s what I always wanted to do. I didn’t want my coach and friends to feel bad for me, but they knew who to call if I got hurt.&uot;

Back in May, Bagley made the decision to donate his own kidney to replace his child’s. &uot;Picking him up from dialysis took its tool,&uot; he said. &uot;I got tested, and found out I was the same blood type.&uot; After a CAT scan, urinalysis, and a battery of other tests, Bagley was declared a suitable donor.

At about 5:30 a.m. last Monday, he went to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to go under the knife for the first time in his 42 years. Outside, Juwann waited for his turn.

&uot;I was pretty calm,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t think I was nervous.&uot; At 9:30 a.m., it was his turn.

The operation took until mid-afternoon. Just before 3 p.m., Juwann went back to the intensive care unit, and Heloise walked into his room.

&uot;I asked how he was feeling, and I touched his arm,&uot; she said. &uot;He looked at me and smiled, and went right back to sleep.&uot; Juwann stayed in the ICU for the next two days. On Friday, he and Robert came home.

&uot;I feel alright,&uot; Juwann said. &uot;My appetite’s back to normal.&uot; On dialysis, he was placed on a low sodium, limited fluids diet. &uot;I want to go to college at North Carolina University and become a surgeon, like the ones that helped me.&uot;