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Memphis assistant coach Robert Kirby donates kidney to sister

Memphis assistant coach Robert Kirby donated a kidney to his sister. (Icon SMI) Memphis assistant basketball coach Robert Kirby donated a kidney to his sister. (Icon SMI)

Memphis assistant basketball coach Robert Kirby donated a kidney to his sister on Tuesday, 17 years after he lost his mother to kidney failure and lupus, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.

Kirby, 53 and his sister, Virginia Kirk, were scheduled to return home on Thursday, following the procedure at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis. Kirby hopes to return to practice in the next few weeks.

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Kirby's mother, Ethel, refused to allow any of her 13 children to be tested as possible donors as her health failed in 1996. Kirby told Katz he wasn't going to let his sister, 57, suffer the same fate.

"My mother wouldn't allow us to donate," said Kirby, an assistant coach over three decades on the staffs at Arkansas-Little Rock, Houston, Southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi State, Georgetown and LSU. "She said she lived her life. She didn't want any of us to do that. This was my sister, and it was never a question mark if I would, but it was 'Could I?'"

Kirby was the only one of his sister's siblings to be determined a match. He said his sister was experiencing renal failure with one functioning kidney before the transplant.

Afterward, Kirby said his sister was already doing better with her new kidney.

"The color came back in her face right away," he said. "She's doing quite well. I'm just a little sore. She was down to one, and that one wasn't functioning very well at all. The life has come back to her."

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