Every day in this country, 13 people die waiting for a kidney. That’s what students, parents, and football fans found out before Northwood High School's Homecoming game Friday.
And they got that message from someone who's lived the terror of not knowing if an organ could be found in time to save his life--head football coach Dennis Harris.
Two years ago, just walking 50 yards to the front door of the school became a challenge for him.
"It was a really tough deal for me," Harris says. " I would get winded and have to stop. That was rock bottom."
His doctors told him his kidneys were failing. His future was uncertain unless they could find a donor. He didn't have to look far. His wife Darlene was the first to roll up her sleeves and get tested.
“I didn't think twice about it. He's my husband and I want him to live as long as possible. I didn't think twice about trying to find out if I could be a match," Darlene Harris says.
She was a perfect match. And two less than two years into their new marriage, she gave her husband a kidney. Transplant surgery at the University of Maryland was a complete success.
"They have a new procedure where they can take it out through your belly button. I was back to work within the next week," Darlene Harris says.
And Coach Harris was back on the field for the first practice. He's one of the lucky ones. A lot of Marylanders die waiting for a kidney. Last year, kidneys didn't come fast enough for 1300 people in the state.
The Harris's want to tell as many people as possible about the life-saving gift of organ donation.Northwood's Homecoming game was also deemed organ donation night.
A 95 yard touchdown run on their first possession was the symbolic for Coach Harris. Getting back in the game thanks to his wife.
“I feel great," he says. “I’m 80 pounds lighter, healthier. Just having my wife do this for me is a blessing in itself."
And now she gets her husband back, "and we can pick up where we left off," Darlene Harris says
The National Kidney Foundation was at Northwood during the game, giving out information about organ, eye, and tissue donations.