Transplant reunites player and coach

April 11, 2008 7:41:10 AM PDT
Every athlete remembers that one coach who taught them a lot about sports and even more about life. A Santa Rosa volleyball coach was just that sort of mentor to a teen-age girl a decade ago. That girl returned the favor with a life-saving gesture that has many calling her a hero.

Nancy Archer-Crofut always took care of herself. She was in great shape. She had to be, coaching girl's volleyball teams at the high school, and club level. That didn't stop a virus from destroying her kidneys.

"Three hours a day, three times a week I was in dialysis," said Nancy Archer, Crofut, transplant recipient.

"Nancy has always lived such a healthy lifestyle. She's such a great athlete and to hear that you say how could that happen?" said John Crofut, husband.

She needed a transplant. But neither her kids nor husband had the right blood type. However, a friendship made nearly a decade ago gave her a second shot at life.

"She stood out from all the rest; she was taller; she was a little more awkward; she sprained both ankles the first week of tryouts - and so graceful," said Nancy Archer.

That was nine years ago, when Nancy was junior varsity coach volleyball coach at Santa Rosa High, and a gangly 14-year-old tried out.

"I thought she was really nice and I thought she was crazy for wanting me on her volleyball team," said Cody Hicks, kidney donor.

She made the team. But after high school the two lost touch. Then, in a chance meeting at a game two years ago - a now 20-year-old Cody found out her old coach needed a new kidney, but faced years of waiting on a transplant list. Cody volunteered to be tested and to her surprise - found out she was a match.

"I guess I never really saw it as saving her life, I just saw it as someone in need and I could be that person to help them," said Cody Hicks.

In January of last year, the operation took place. It was a success, and both are now doing fine. That's led the Sonoma and Mendocino chapter of the American Red Cross to honor Cody as one of this year's real heroes. To the Crofut's and their kids, she's even more.

"It's gratitude I feel all the way through and it gave me my life back," said Nancy Archer.

"It's almost like I am related to everyone here. Something of me is in their mom," said Cody Hicks.

The Crofut family feels the same way. In fact, Cody moved in to their home to recuperate and go back to Sonoma State University when she felt well enough. They all liked the arrangement so much, that she still lives there, as one of the family - they consider her an adopted daughter.


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