A Gift of Life: First Kidney Transplant in Northwest Florida A Success


At Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, it’s the first of its kind: a kidney transplant in Northwest Florida.

47-year-old Renwick Avant thought his health was in good condition.

“I have always been healthy and everything,” Avant said. “I never thought that anything was wrong.”

But a routine trip to the doctor and a urine test later..

“You’re at stage three kidney failure is what he told me, and I’m like what?” Avant said.

That was eight years ago in 2009, beginning Avant’s quest to find a donor. Fast forward two years, and he’s on three different transplant lists in three separate cities. Time was ticking and then, some good news.

“Dr. Oweis told me they going to start doing one at Sacred Heart,” Avant said. “I thought that would be nice because that is close to home.”

And it wasn’t just good news for Avant. Avant’s case marked a milestone for surgeon Rick Steven’s career and the hospital itself.

“The first five minutes of meeting him, it was very clear that he wanted to be the first person transplanted in our program, Steven said. “He wanted to make history.”

The moment that tied it all together: a donor match. Soon enough, the big day came and within two and a half hours, the procedure was done.

For Avant, it’s like a new lease on life.

“He’s a very active person,” Stevens said. “The challenge with Mr. Avant is doing too much too fast.”

“You are basically giving a gift to a person to keep living and enjoy life,” Avant said.

Avant said he’s thankful for the transplant after spending three days per week on dialysis. He hopes to return to work at Gulf Power in a couple of weeks and plans on continuing his volunteer work as a little league baseball coach.


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