Oliver Springs father gets surprise news of kidney donor

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HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WATE) — Jason Robbins got the surprise of a lifetime from his family as he headed into one of his dialysis treatments Wednesday morning.

His wife, Eva Robbins, his three children, mom, sister and more were waiting outside the Fresenius Kidney Care center with his future kidney donor, Rhonda Jackson.

Robbins had been suffering from the life-threatening illness Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease, or ADPKD.

He was first diagnosed in 2005, progressively getting worse over the years, but his health went from painful to life-threatening in 2018.

Robbins’ kidneys were functioning at 7%, forcing him to be on dialysis a few days a week.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Kirstie Crawford spoke with the family October 2019, after two close donor matches didn’t pass the final tests.

Rhonda Jackson, also from Oliver Springs, watched the newscast that day and knew she needed to help.

“I think the Lord just spoke to me that day and said ‘You need to do this. You just need to go ahead and do it…The number to Vanderbilt was given and I just called them the next day and asked what to do,” Jackson said.

She said she didn’t want to tell anyone at first, because she didn’t want to get their hopes up if it didn’t work out.

Jackson eventually told Robbins’ wife and gave her status updates as she passed the tests.

“The first question that I asked Vanderbilt when I called, I said, ‘I want to be a donor, but I’m afraid I might be too old. She said, ‘how old are you?’ I said ‘I’m 65.’ (She said) ‘Oh no, you’re fine,'” Jackson explained.

She said the process was long, but worth it.

There were some portions of the testing she was afraid she wouldn’t pass, such as the stress test, but passed everything ‘with flying colors.’

She said she was never scared because she knew this was something God wanted her to do.

Jackson even had a doctor write that down as her reason for donating her kidney.

Jackson and Robbins had seen each other around town, but never really met.

She found out on Monday that she could donate her kidney to Robbins.

Robbins was extremely grateful for the surprising news.

He and his family planned for a long road of dialysis and waiting, knowing that with his blood type and condition, it could’ve taken several years to get a kidney.

“There’s no improvement until I get a kidney. Nothings going to fix this but a new kidney. Now it’s about to get fixed,” Robbins said.

The transplant surgery is scheduled for mid-February at Vanderbilt.

Robbins will spend a few weeks in the hospital after the transplant, and then about another year without work to recover.

His family has a GoFundMe set up to help with medical expenses. Click here if you would like to help.

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