Over 20 years ago, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Lional Dalton chose to support the Living Legacy Foundation in Maryland. According to their website, "the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland inspires our community to save and enhance lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation while honoring the legacy of donors and their families."
Fast forward to last year and the now-former Raven nicknamed "Jelly Roll" received life-altering news. In January of 2020, Dalton was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney disease. The once warrior on the football field now fights for his life as he waits for a life-saving kidney transplant.
Dalton, now 46-years old, is a husband and father of four.
Dalton has started a website in his search for a new kidney, newkidneyforjellyroll.com. In the personal story section of the website, Dalton says “It was a shock to me,” regarding the reveal that he was in end-stage kidney failure. “I knew I was getting sicker each day; I knew my body was fighting against me, but I didn’t know it was this bad.” He goes on to say that he has lost over 100 pounds and is eating healthy and exercising but that "unfortunately playing football for all those years did come with a price."
“At 45, Lional is too young to be in this much pain," said Dr. Leonard Gyebi of Peachtree Kidney and Hypertenstion. "He has a young family, and a long life to live. It’s crucial we find him a kidney as soon as possible."
Dalton currently undergoes dialysis treatment three times a week while he waits for a potential match to save his life. In an interview with Good Morning America, Dalton revealed that there are a few potential matches. With his type O-Negative blood though, finding a match is a difficult journey. Following his appearance on the talk show, a woman stepped forward to donate her kidney. Her kidney was originally intended for her mother who sadly passed away before that could happen. The woman is currently undergoing tests to see if she is a match.
After going undrafted out of Eastern Michigan in 1998, Dalton signed as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore, where he would play the first four years of his nine-year career. The run-stuffing defensive tackle was a part of what many consider to be the NFL's greatest defense of all time: the 2000 Ravens, led by Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. Baltimore won its first Super Bowl on the back of their legendary defense, defeating the New York Giants by a score of 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV to bring home the first of two Lombardi Trophies in Ravens' history.
Dalton would later leave Baltimore in 2001 to sign with the Denver Broncos. Dalton also spent time with Washington, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Houston Texans before retiring following the 2006 season due to a spinal injury. During his nine seasons in the NFL, Dalton played in 157 games, starting 57, and made 147 total tackles, 30 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one quarterback hit, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and five pass deflections.
If you can help Dalton in his search for a life-saving kidney, then visit the "how can you help" section on his website.
According to unos.org, 107,386 people are currently in need of life-saving organ transplants. Of those, only 65,318 are active waiting list candidates.