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Life After Dialysis

Taking the Court With SJC Tennis Coach Glenn Nathan

It’s 7 a.m. on November 4, 2012, and Glenn Nathan is euphoric. He’s just received a phone call from New York Presbyterian that will change his life forever. A kidney is available for transplant, with surgery scheduled the following day, if Glenn is up for it.

There’s only one complication.

“The next Friday was my daughter’s Sweet 16,” Mr. Nathan said. “The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘I can’t take this kidney, my daughter’s party is on Friday, I can’t miss it.’”

Not many men in need of a kidney would delay their decision to accept a perfect match. Especially if they had experienced kidney problems since age 8, been on dialysis since age 20 and had two previous transplants come up short.

“About a month before this, I was talking to a transplant coordinator over at the same hospital,” Mr. Nathan said. “She was saying it might not be another year or so to even get up on the list to get the transplant.”

All the more reason to jump at the opportunity, right?

But this is Glenn Nathan, a dedicated father who puts his entire soul into every aspect of his life; Sweet 16s were no different. Once Glenn retrieved word from New York Presbyterian, he asked his wife, Denise, what should be done. She suggested they bring their daughter Courtney in on the decision.

“We woke her up, it was still early in the morning,” Mr. Nathan said. “She came in the living room after the cobwebs have gone and said, ‘Dad, it’ll be the best present you could give me.’”

The next day, Glenn Nathan received a fully functioning, compatible kidney. The procedure was such an overwhelming success that, just five days later, Glenn was out of the hospital and able to attend Courtney’s Sweet 16. Though still weak from recovery, he stood by her side for the candle-lighting ceremony.

St. Joseph’s College men’s and women’s tennis coach (2003 coach of the year [women], 2007 coach of the year [men], and the 2008 and 2010 co-coach of the year [men]) at the Long Island Campus for the last decade, Glenn Nathan was profiled by SJCNY during his search for a kidney donor in spring 2011. Mr. Nathan recently sat with us for the first time since his November 2012 transplant, discussing how the last few months have been a gigantic shift in routine, as well as his long battle with kidney complications.

“There are so many people out there — I think there’s 75,000 people out there waiting for kidney transplant across the United States,” he said, “and I think it’s important for people to see the successes, to see what the good came out of it.”

It’s not hard for Mr. Nathan to recall a time when dialysis controlled his life. Nor is it difficult to remember a time when agonizing commutes to Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) and half a dozen other local courts controlled his tennis team’s home games.

Thankfully, it’s a new day for Mr. Nathan and St. Joe’s. A new kidney has Glenn up and running, and the Long Island Campus’ new Outdoor Athletic Complex has given his players a true home, just in time to make another NCAA tournament run.

“It’s been great here at St. Joe’s. I really do love it. My problem now is that I want to get full time at tennis. Especially being healthier,” he said. “Not having to dialyze three times a week. It’s 15 hours a week that I get back, but also when I dialyze I could lose anywhere from six-to-eight pounds a treatment … now I gain 15 hours and a lot more energy.”

Mr. Nathan currently trades his tennis-coaching time with his professional career as a sales representative of Silver Line Windows. Now back to full capacity and looking forward with a renewed outlook on life, Glenn knows to make the most of every day.

“I’ve always worked hard, I’ve always pushed myself. If you look at everything I’ve done, even on dialysis, I say ‘How did I do it?’”

As early as 1983, Glenn Nathan has made headlines for his indomitable spirit and work ethic. His success on the tennis court at SCCC’s Ammerman Campus and Adelphi University earned him a partial scholarship, all while on dialysis, and a spread in Newsday. “But my goal now is to live life and enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “And now, I’m also on the national board of American Association for Kidney Patients. So my goal is to get back fulltime into tennis and reach out to kidney patients. Show them that there is life after dialysis.”


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