Life is strange. Most people sleep, wake up and eat and sleep and wake up and eat. It is a gift that too many take for granted. As long as things are moving along most of us never think about how and why that happens.
Donshell and Pamela English have come face-to-face with the reality of the everyday function of the body. Not that every organ in the body is not important; however, the English family has had to come to a hallelujah meeting with their kidneys.
The kidneys play a vital role in our health. As the renal organs, the kidney’s job is like a chemist, which is to constantly monitor the quality of the blood. Its main job is to ensure that the blood circulating around our body is pure and are free from harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, waste products, excess water and many more.
The bean-shaped organs that act like the waste disposal of the body, became the focal point in the lives of Donshell and Pamela. They are both teachers and have been married for 18 years and have two children, Kaylen and Kendall. Donshell was an exceptional athlete at Cass Technical High School, graduating in 1986. He attended Eastern Michigan University, where he was instrumental in helping the team win the MAC Conference Championship and the California Bowl in 1987. He played defensive end and served as team captain.
Strong and athletic, Donshell appeared to have everything a person could want sitting right in front of him. Taking over the Southeastern football program in 2002, in two years he took the Jungleers to its first Public School League (PSL) Division IV Championship, and they were runners-up for the City Championship.
It did not stop there as he guided Southeastern to a two year record of 22-3 (2008 and 2009). English and the Jungleers won a city title in 2008 and took all on an unforgettable ride to the state semifinals and played in one of the most memorable and talked about games in PSL history — a close loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson. At the peak of his successful life, his kidneys took control, forcing him to resign from the game he loved to focus on getting his health in order. “Fourteen or fifteen years ago I was told my numbers were not right,” Donshell recalled. “I did everything the doctors told me to do as far as medicine and other stuff. It all worked out okay until 2007 when I started feeling bad and having pain. Eventually they diagnosed me with diverticulitis. I had to have surgery where they removed part of my colon and I had to wear a colostomy bag for a year. Man my life changed unbelievably.”
Through coaching, teaching, and the kids, he managed to find a deterrent that helped him not dwell too much on the health issues.
“Being a coach in the inner city is a full time job,” he explained. “There is so much more than just coaching needed if you want to do the job right. I had to make sure they were going to class, I had to clothe some of them, feed some of them and be a father or big brother when needed. Football became a safe haven for many of my kids.” Donshell was one of the PSL’s best coaches and mentors until January of ’09. Not feeling too good for a while he finally went to the doctor and his test results showed his creatinine level had climbed to 15. The next morning he had his first kidney dialysis and stayed on a schedule of dialysis three times a week until this past June.
“We were at a meeting and the question came up about a donor kidney, so I raised my hand and said I’d try,” Pamela recalled. “After some tests I found we were a match and it was a no-brainer from there. It was life and death and the quality of life possible for my husband and the father of my kids.
“We never had any doubt that my kidney would take, because we have a strong faith in God. After the surgery. recovery went well for both of us. We have had great support from our church and family. We are trying to live life to the fullest. We are happy!”
Said Donshell: “Everything is working fantastically. It is a true blessing that I’m done with dialysis. I hope to be back coaching next year.”