State hospital security officer gets a new kidney

Terry Watkins will tell you straight up that it’s his fault he needed a new kidney. He didn’t take care of his diabetes or his hypertension. That oversight forced a kidney shutdown, requiring years of dialysis and a kidney transplant. The Big Spring State Hospital security officer spent two years on the waiting list, always apprehensive, always waiting, always hopeful. “Each time the phone rang, you were just on edge,” he said. “You were a little excited.” Now the poster boy for good health, Watkins exercises at the Howard College Harold Davis Fitness Center where he works part-time. “I go just about any chance I get,” he said. Kidney failure and the ensuing dialysis treatments are two periods in his life he would rather have avoided. “Anyone who has ever been on dialysis knows that it’s just no fun,” Watkins said. “Three days a week, four hours a day. It’s just not fun.” Watkins, who worked at the hospital for a nine-year stretch in the 1980s and 1990s and left to take a job at the prison in Colorado City, began his schooling as a medical assistant in 2008. Shortly thereafter, his worsening diabetes triggered his kidney shutdown and he was unable to finish his schooling.He was put on the kidney donor waiting list with LifeGift in Lubbock and given a long list of instructions regarding what to do in the meantime.“You just anticipate so much,” he said of the wait.When the phone rang on January 19 of 2010, Watkins and his wife, Maria of 22 years, a Shift Team Leader at Big Spring State Hospital, left with already packed bags.“Every time I heard the phone ring, I started getting nervous because they tell you that as soon as you get the call you have to leave,” Watkins said. “Not so much nervous but excited with anticipation.”For the entire article, purchase the Herald's paper for Monday, May 2, 2011, or an e-edition subscription for as little as 75 cents on this website.