PRESCOTT – Logan Carmick smiles every time he puts on his Prescott High School uniform and steps on the baseball field. This is his life jacket of sorts. His joy. His way of getting through.
Nearly nine months ago, he was praying with his parents that the living donor who was going to give Logan a kidney would be accepted.
But that same day, the Carmicks received a call from Mayo Clinic in Phoenix that a kidney from a deceased donor was ready for Logan.
A man in his 30s saved not only Logan on July 5, but several other people who needed transplants.
“God bless their family,” said Stephen Carmick, Logan’s father, who manages a Trader Joe’s in Prescott. “That was amazing.
“You pray for a kidney. … All of a sudden, Logan is on the phone with the doctor, wanting to see what Logan’s thoughts are. Your whole head is spinning. With a living donor, you plan for it. You can prepare for it. This way, we had to make a decision.”
It wasn’t the first decision of that nature for Logan, 18, a corner infielder/designated hitter, a good hitter, in coach Kent Winslow’s book. That was his second kidney transplant surgery.
Born with renal hypoplasia, a condition associated with small kidneys and potential kidney failure, Logan had his first kidney transplant when he was 4. His father was his donor then.
Logan’s immune system is shot, and he has spent most of his high school years homeschooled. He takes a handful of pills every day.
Since the second transplant, he has been placed on hemodialysis to allow the kidney time to “wake up,” he says. He has been diagnosed with two viruses.
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His saving grace?
“Baseball,” he said. “Baseball is my escape.”
‘Just a fluke’
Stephen and Dennetta Carmick’s other son, 12-year-old Luke, has never had kidney problems.
“It was just a fluke,” Stephen said about Logan’s kidneys. “A blockage in his system before he was born. It caused things to back up and damage the kidneys.”
His middle school years were great. The family moved to Prescott from the Chicago area in 2011, when Logan was in seventh grade.
He kept up with classmates in P.E., did cross fit and played baseball with abandonment.
High school has been a resilient journey. He spent 23 days in the hospital during his freshman year, after developing a fungal infection in his lungs. He had to go on a medication that he said wiped out the fungus “but also wiped out everything else.”
He takes four pills in the morning and six to eight at night, depending on his blood levels. He currently has two viruses. This is why he has spent much of high school homeschooled. But the school has been helpful, allowing his teacher to work with him at the Carmick home. In order to play baseball, Logan has to be in school for a couple of hours a day. Everybody has come together to make sure Carmick graduates on time in May.
But he is isolated from students, because his immune system is compromised. He stays in the library or in Winslow’s office. He is a teacher’s aide for his coach.
“He stays pretty positive,” Stephen said. “I know it can really beat him down.”
During his sophomore year, he said, when he had a fungal infection in his lungs that caused him to spend more than a month in the hospital and drop 25 pounds to 125, he hit rock bottom. His kidneys were failing.
“It was hard to walk and everything,” he said.
Back on the field
Winslow was shocked to see Logan on the first day of tryouts.
“I hadn’t seen him for about four months or so,” Winslow said. “He showed up, and, I mean, you talk about a kid looking like he was close to death.
“We had a meeting with the parents to see if he could still play baseball. Everybody was in tears. He was trying to do everything he could.”
That is when Logan’s world crumbled.
“He hadn’t been at school,” Stephen said. “The goal was to get back in at January, but he was still too sick. That broke him down.”
He spent much of his time in Phoenix for treatment.
Fortunately, his mother is a nurse. For 13 months, he was on peritoneal dialysis. His mother would hook him up to the machine when he went to bed and he would sleep through the night while on dialysis. Those were 10- to 12-hour cycles.
“I thought that would be a shocker, but he rolled with it,” Stephen said.
Logan gets an immunoglobulin injection once a month that lasts two to three hours. That helps him fight off bacteria.
Teammates are amazed that Logan is even practicing and participating in games, mostly pinch hitting.
“I don’t know if I could do what he’s doing, going through what he’s been and play something that is so demanding,” senior first baseman Justin Warren said.
Sports as therapy
Logan isn’t able to run as well as he’d like, he said, because he cramps up.
Two scars on the sides of his waist show where he’s been. His failing kidneys were never taken out. He just added two more.
He still does his cross-fit workouts in the morning. He helps Winslow with his classes. And he perseveres.
Every two years, he bonds with other transplant patients at Transplant Games and Kidney Camps.
He wants to help educate people about the need for transplants, how there are up to 100,000 people needing organ transplants and how important it is to check the donor box on a driver’s license.
Logan knows this is a life-long battle. But faith, teammates and baseball keep him strong.
“I think the transplantation has taught me a lot about life,” Logan said. “It has taught me that life will throw curveballs at you, such as diet restrictions, medication schedules, debilitating side effects and unfavorable diagnosis. This has helped me develop strength and adhere to different situations and still be grateful for the positive things in my life.”
When he gets down, all he has to do is pick up a bat, put on a glove.
“He’s always played baseball,” Stephen said. “This is his support group. Here with Coach Winslow and his teammates, it’s a big deal. Life is so much bigger than sports. But sports can be so important and so therapeutic.”