Lional Dalton's 'next play': a fight for his life

Former Raven in urgent need of kidney transplant
Lional Dalton
Posted at 5:05 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 13:10:01-04

BALTIMORE — As Lional Dalton undergoes dialysis treatment at a clinic in Atlanta, an old football saying comes to mind. Its meaning rings true now more than ever.

"Next play. Next play," he said. "I’ll tell you, I’ve been taking it a day at a time."

The defensive tackle who played four seasons in Baltimore, winning Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens, is trying to keep things positive even as he faces the toughest challenge of his life.

Dalton is in desperate need of a new kidney.

"I’m hoping by me bringing attention and helping other people that someone would donate a living kidney to me."

The 46-year-old found out his kidneys were failing in January of 2020. He has needed dialysis ever since. He goes for treatment three days a week for 4-and-a-half hours per session. A kidney from a living donor can last 15-20 years.

It’s been a wave of emotion for the past year-and-a-half.

"At first I was in denial. [I'm a] big, tough football player. I could work out. In my mind I could fix anything," he said.

He came to accept the realization that he was one of the over 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving transplant.

"I’ve been thinking optimistically. I’m praying. I got a good feeling that somebody is going to donate."

A potential match may be in the cards.

Dalton shared his story with ABC's Good Morning America in late April. Since then two potential donors have come forward, one within the past couple of days. Both are from Baltimore. Both are Ravens fans. Both reached out through the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, a nonprofit that helps facilitate organ donation. It’s the same foundation that Dalton promoted during his playing days in Baltimore.

"It’s like everything working full circle," he said with a smile.

Just like back then Dalton wants to end the stigma of organ donation.

"You know, a lot of people are really scared of it or they feel that something could happen to them. One person can save eight lives."

One of those lives could be Lional Dalton’s.

For more information about organ donation click here.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook