Couple with West Knoxville ties hopeful for kidney donor

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — One local couple is spending the Easter weekend searching for a kidney donor.

Most people know Charles “Chip” Graham as “Coach Graham.” The retired coach is no stranger to the world of athletics, coaching everything from soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, and softball.”

Chip and his wife, Beverly, have been active with athletics in West Knoxville.

But now, the couple is hoping the community can help “Coach Graham” pull through another type of battle. His kidney function is at just 10 percent and Chip is currently on a kidney transplant list at UT Medical Center.

The wait could take between three to five years.

“His kidneys are not going to improve,” said Beverly. “They’re only going to get worse. He’s got about 10 percent function now of normal function. So, that’s not a lot of normal function.”

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 107,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list as of February 2021.

“His best bet is we’re hoping that somebody will be a living donor or we can get one from a deceased,” Beverly explained. “But whether it’s for us or whether it’s a kidney or lung, or heart or whatever, I just hope this brings some awareness that there are a lot of people in Tennessee that are needing that help.”

Beverly is no stranger to needing help. In 2016 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We had about three years that we had lots of things we were dealing with, with my health and I still have chemo drugs that I take every day, and I will for the next five years,” she said.

Their favorite thing to do is to be on the water, but with chemo and radiation, that all had to come to a halt.

Just as Beverly was beginning recover, Chip started to have his own struggles.

“Now he’s the one who can’t get in the water because he has a catheter that we do the dialysis at home with.”

Not only do Beverly and Chip love to be on the water, but they love to share the adventures with their grandson.

“My grandson is the light of my life,” said Chip. “He’s four years old. His name is Charlie.”

Chip’s kidney disease is hereditary, therefore he cannot receive a kidney from a family member.

He hopes someone will hear his story and be a hero for him so Chip can continue to be a hero for his grandson.

“I want him to remember me as he grows up.”

You can learn more about the Grahams’ story HERE.

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