Former NFL player reveals battle with kidney failure

Lional Dalton went from fighting on the field to fighting for his life as he awaits a life-saving kidney transplant while searching for a match.
4:11 | 04/29/21

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Transcript for Former NFL player reveals battle with kidney failure
April is national donate life month. It's a time focused on the challenges of organ donation and encouraging Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. 107,000. That's how many people right now are in need of a life-saving transplant and today we are meeting one of those folks. Take a look at his story. At 46 years old, lional Dalton seemingly had it all. The former NFL defensive tackle is a super bowl champion, taking home a ring for the Baltimore ravens win in 2001 and a husband to wife Tiffany and doting father of four but last year things changed. Lional started feeling sick and after a trip to the hospital he discovered he had stage four kidney failure and in need of a life-saving transplant. It's been more than a year since that diagnosis, and lional is still waiting for a donor, spending five hours a day, three times a week, on dialysis, an athlete once fighting on the field, now fighting for his life. Lional Dalton joins us now. I want to bring him in, thank you for being here, you haven't really talked about this publicly, lional, just I guess, we have to start first, just what is today? I know every day has to be difficult in some way, form or fashion, but just how are you doing today? I'm doing great today, thanks for having me. I take it day by day. Today is beautiful in Florida so I feel pretty good right now. That's one way to look at it. I love that. We saw a little bit of your story line, but can you walk us through how you first found out about your diagnosis and what your symptoms were. Well, we were having a new years party in 2020 at my house, and that night, I started to feel shortness of breath, in my chest, and I had a lot of tightness in my chest, so I went to the local fire station. And then I checked in at the local hospital, Piedmont hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, and within hours, the doctor told me my kidneys were functioning at 17% and that I need to get on dialysis immediately. And originally, I was in shock, I knew nothing about kidney failure. I called my wife to get my affairs in order because in my mind I was about to die, but through education, and research, I found that some people are living pretty healthy lives. With kidney failure. And lional, obviously you are still waiting for a donor. What message do you want out there, and I know you teamed up with the living legacy foundation. What do you want people to know? What I'm trying to do is remove the stigma and fear of organ donation. A lot of people are scared, especially my family, has been really scared about donating because they think, you know, something is going to happen to them if they donate a kidney, so I'm trying to explain and bring awareness to donation and understand there are a lot of people out here who are suffering from this disease who could really use, you know, a kidney, or organ, like one person could save up to eight lives. And what's better than leaving a legacy of life, you know, giving a father more time with his children, or grandmother more time with her grandchildren. Just the importance of organ donors in helping others. Lional, can we ask you, do you know where you are on, I guess that list, do you know, have they told you? Is there any possibility? Maybe you have friends or family who are trying to see if they're a match as well? I guess what's the update there? Right now, I'm an O negative blood type, so my wait time is eight years but I have a few living donors in the pipeline, I have one, a little overweight and trying to lose weight now because they're very particular who they let donate kidneys, and I have one lady right now who is a potential match, so I'm excited about this and we'll see what happens. Well, please keep us updated. We are thinking of you. We are sending you love and prayers. Lional Dalton, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon and obviously your message hopefully is going to encourage people to donate because it does save lives, and multiple lives, like you pointed out, so thank you, lional. Okay, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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