Pensacola's first kidney transplant performed at Sacred Heart


The first patient to receive a kidney transplant at Sacred Heart Hospital - Renwick Avant, 47, of Pensacola, right, and his family have a laugh as they listen during a press conference at the hospital in Pensacola on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.(Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/
Rick Stevens, the primary surgeon and director of Sacred Heart’s kidney transplant program, performs a transplant at the University of Florida Health’s hospital in Gainesville. Stevens also performed Renwick Avant’s kidney transplant at Sacred Heart.

Diagnosed in early 2009 with end-stage renal disease, the wait for a new kidney would ultimately span almost a decade for Renwick Avant. But in the immediacy of doctors confirming his condition, all the 47-year-old resident of Pensacola could feel was shock.

"I couldn’t believe it at first," he said. "My wife, she was devastated when she first heard about it. But I always have faith in God, and it made a difference in my life, because I knew my life had to change."

What transpired encompassed a series of unavoidable lifestyle alterations. After coaching Little League Baseball for 18 years, Avant stepped away — a necessary decision invoked by the rigors of three-day-a-week dialysis. The treatments impacted family vacations with wife Jennifer, daughter Lena and son Joey. His condition also forced him to relinquish certain aspects of his diet including milk, and even worse, chocolate. Continue reading