Murray receives transplant

“I feel blessed…I’m thankful to the Lord” groggily flowed from Billy Joe Murray as he lay in a bed at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS)  on July 27, roughly 34 hours after completion of his successful right kidney transplant. Soon following was a half comic, “Maybe I’ll coach again…. and try to win a few more rings.” His nurse, Lisa Escamilla, R.N., added that he had already been on his feet, even walking, and that his recuperation had enjoyed such a positive start he would be leaving the facility the following morning.

The flurry of long-weekend activity began the preceding Friday, when at his home in Earle (Crittenden County), Billy Joe received a phone call requesting that he be at UAMS the following noon for “pre-op.” Complying, he laid on an operating table before midnight on Saturday. Approximately six hours later, he was the recipient of a new kidney. The 10 months of waiting and praying – his, his family’s, his high school teammates’ and those of hundreds of fans and friends – were over.

All-Star Coach Billy Joe Murray with his son, BJ Murray, at the 2018 All-Star Game. Murray, who was featured in the August edition of 501 LIFE, recently underwent a kidney transplant.

The identity of the kidney donor will forever be hidden, unless legally authorized persons elect to provide his name. The name of the surgeon performing the medical marvel, however, will always remain public knowledge: Lyle J. Burdine, M.D., Ph. D. The Texas native and award-winning three-season Duke University football linebacker appreciated Billy Joe’s basketball background. “Mr. Murray is doing well and is off dialysis with his new kidney transplant,” said Burdine. “His history as an athlete served him well as he was in and out of UAMS following kidney transplantation in a couple of days. The UAMS transplant team really enjoyed helping him through the workup and onto a quick and successful transplant.”

On July 20, the August issue of 501 LIFE hit the streets. It included a feature on Billy Joe’s basketball-rich life. The piece concluded with the hope that “the Lord [would bless] him…[with]…a kidney transplant.” Six days later, that hope had become a reality. Call the timing “a coincidence,” “an accident,” “an oddity” or whatever, 501 LIFE is simply delighted that it could aid in bringing Billy Joe’s painful and pressing plight to the attention of readers.

Regardless, Billy Joe undoubtedly respects, and lives, the wisdom of the most celebrated man ever to coach the sport he loves, basketball: “If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we all would be much happier.” – John Wooten.

Bob Reising