High school football player sidelined as he waits for kidney

A high school football player’s dreams were dashed last year when a rolled ankle led to the discovery of chronic kidney disease. A.J. Jefferson, now a sophomore in Forsyth, Ga., first sought help after his ankle wouldn’t heal and his legs began to swell, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

Doctors soon discovered that he was experiencing symptoms of kidney failure, and the then-freshman was forced to trade in his pads for eight hours of dialysis every day.

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“They told me I couldn’t play football anymore,” Jefferson, who also plays basketball for Mary Pearsons High School, told Fox 5 Atlanta.

But still, Jefferson has showed up for practice, offering his support for the sideline as he waits for news of a donor. Volunteers can sign up for screening through Emory.

“I have a deep love for the game,” he told the news outlet. “I’ve played since I was little and it’s helping to come out here and be around the guys.”

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Jefferson said the support he’s received from the community has also helped him cope.

“It’s been mind-blowing to have a community that supports you through hard times, to have teammates, coaches, friends and loved ones all back you up,” he said. “It really means a lot.”