New Bedford Man’s Emotional Return to Field Post-Kidney Transplant
It's been almost two years since Pablo Zayas began looking for a kidney.
Since then, a generous donor has given the New Bedford man a miraculous second shot at life -- a chance to start over, a chance to redo all the things he loves the most.
Especially umpiring local baseball on the SouthCoast.
March 29 was a milestone for Zayas that he'll never forget. That's when he stepped onto the field to umpire a Dartmouth High School baseball game.
"You know when you're 5 years old on the 24th of December and you go to bed waiting for the 25th? It felt just like that," Zayas said. "I recognized every single one of those kids because I used to work in Dartmouth Little League and Pony League. I knew the entire Dartmouth Varsity team, every single player, and it was amazing."
One by one, the players walked up to him to welcome Zayas back with open arms and asked him how he was feeling.
"I loved every single second of the game, it was incredible," Zayas said. "I have a full schedule for high school baseball for the next two months. I'll be working 30 games."
When asked how his overall health was these days, he replied with a humble "98.2 percent," and listed off the positives this new life has brought him.
"Well, I got a new kidney, I went to rehab for three to four months, I'm drinking my medication, I'm not drinking alcohol, I'm not going to bed too late, I'm taking care of myself and I have an amazing wife," Zayas said. "I'm doing OK for myself. I'm 58 years old. My plan is to last another 30 healthier years."
Zayas told Fun 107 that family is everything to him and that he loves every second spent with loved ones doing a lot of activities he was unable to do six or seven months ago.
"I get to take care of my kids and my grandkids once again," Zayas said. "I even get to watch my grandkids do karate and I've been teaching baseball to my two grandsons. This past year has been tough, with six surgeries. I spent nine months in and out of the hospital.
"I'm not out completely, but I'm almost at the top," he said, referring to his overall health.
"When I get there, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, because I love every second of it."
Every so often, I'll reach out to Zayas just to catch up and each time I do, he reminds me how delicate life can be, but to take in what matters most. Whether it's family, friends, hobbies, or all of the above, live each day to the fullest, because you never know if or when you'll get that second chance.
As cliche as that sounds, Zayas is living proof and the SouthCoast is that much better with him in it.