A Maynardville was trying to donate his kidney to his father on dialysis. A fatal car crash cut his plans short but ended up donating after all. Knoxville News Sentinel
Nathan Davis had been trying to lose weight in hopes he could meet the criteria to donate one of his kidneys. After all, he knew how badly his father needed it.
A car accident cut those plans short and sent Nathan to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with a severe head injury. The 23-year-old died there early Sunday, ending an emotional four-day stretch in which his family hardly left his side. Nathan Davis, left, and his father, Luther Davis. Exhausted, disoriented and numb, his mother, Julia, went home and fell asleep. Hours later, she awoke to a phone call from a member of the transplant team, who told her the good news: Nathan and his father were a match.
“It’s the most paradoxical thing I can imagine, to be so utterly devastated in one part of your heart and so overjoyed in another part of your heart at the same time,” Julia Davis said. “I can’t describe it, but it was like a trickle of electricity that went through me when he told me that. And it made me cry.” ‘Razor sharp wit and lightning flash smile’
Nathan Davis sits above his father, Luther Davis. Nathan died Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, after a car crash in Maynardville. His family says he will donate a kidney to his father, who has had to undergo dialysis treatments for five and a half years. The evening of Jan. 8, Nathan was the passenger in a car driven by 19-year-old Aaron Dinguss, described by Julia Davis as her son’s friend and roommate. Around 8 p.m., the car was headed east on Beard Valley Road outside Maynardville when it left the road and struck a tree, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report.
Dinguss is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, according to the report, which says blood tests were requested and criminal charges are pending. Dinguss, who was hurt in the crash, was treated and released from UT Medical Center.
Julia Davis later took to Facebook to share how she learned of the wreck when a police officer knocked on her door at 4 a.m. the next day. How she, her husband, Luther, and their daughter, Gabbie, rushed to the hospital, where a nurse explained in detail the severity of Nathan’s injuries. How she took comfort in believing God had a plan, and in knowing her son had been baptized.
“For all those who have spent more than a few minutes with Nathan, you know his quick, razor sharp wit and lightning flash smile; his willingness to accept everyone with due respect and kindness is amazing to me,” the mother wrote. Indeed, friends and family members described Nathan as friendly, funny and quick-witted, someone who was always willing to put others before himself. He was young and still trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life.
A Maynardville native, Nathan graduated from Union County High School and moved to Johnson City to attend East Tennessee State University, but later decided college wasn’t for him. According to his Facebook page, he began working in August at Norris Academy, a residential treatment center for children with autism. His mother said he had been looking for another job, perhaps something in landscaping.
“He loved being out in nature,” Julia Davis said, adding that Nathan spent a summer working at a Boy Scout camp in Rockwood. “He wanted to work with his hands.”
He never got the chance. ‘A bittersweet thing’
Nathan Davis rests near a waterfall. Nathan died Jan. 13 after a car crash in Maynardville. He loved spending time outdoors and had been trying to lose weight to donate a kidney to his father, according to his family. Nathan’s mother knew he had signed up to donate his organs after his death. What she didn’t know, she said, was that he had been hoping to help his father sooner rather than later.
“Nathan was trying to get himself in a condition health-wise, weight-wise, so that he could be able to donate as a living donor,” Julia Davis said, adding that Nathan had only told his sister of his plans because he “wouldn’t want to raise hopes and not be able to follow through.”
Luther Davis has long needed a kidney. He has been treated for high blood pressure since he was a child; the discovery that he had also been living with undiagnosed diabetes led to five and a half years of dialysis treatments. Luther Davis (Photo: Submitted / Julia Davis) “He sits in a chair with a needle in his arm, recycling his blood for 5-6 hours each session, three days a week. It’s a big chunk of your waking hours each week,” Julia Davis said. “And once the dialysis is complete, he is utterly drained for the remainder of the day. It literally takes a lot out of you, but it takes a lot out of his stamina as well.”
When a representative from Tennessee Donor Services asked Luther if he would want to receive a kidney from his son, Luther cried and said he thought that’s what Nathan would want.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Luther Davis said. “I’m glad to have the kidney, but I would have loved to have had it any other way.”
Nathan’s sister, Gabbie, pointed out that her brother’s name means “gift.”
“Now that he’s being able to gift all of his organs, to gift life to so many people, it’s just a really beautiful thing despite the travesty of losing the youngest member of our family, my baby brother,” she said.
“This unimaginable nightmare now has to become normal. But there’s good coming out of it.” How to be an organ donor
Tennesseans who want to become organ donors can register online at www.donatelifetn.org or in person at any DMV office. Potential donors are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but living kidney donors typically cannot have a body mass index higher than 35.
Reach Travis Dorman at 865-342-6315 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @travdorman.
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