Baseball has allowed Chad Eaton to live a normal teenage life. It's been his biggest inspiration, fueling him to rise out of bed on mornings when he feels drained by nightly 10-hour dialysis sessions.
The right-handed senior will, for one last time, be the starting pitcher for North Hollywood Campbell Hall on Saturday afternoon. On Tuesday, he's scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center that will end his high school career.
"Psychologically he's been amazing," said Chad's mother, Julie Eaton, whose sister is the kidney donor. "His team, that's what keeps him going. He does it for baseball."
Eaton had a kidney removed 18 months after he was born. His other kidney has limited functionality, forcing him to take injections and, recently, use a dialysis machine for 10 hours every night. He's made numerous hospital visits due to body weakness.
"I've never asked him to do any less than anyone else, and he's never asked to do any less," Campbell Hall baseball coach Juan Velazquez said. "He was there doing what everyone else did, working hard. Later, to find out how severe his condition was, I knew this kid was special."
The moment Chad takes the mound Saturday will be a bittersweet one for the Eaton family -- he'll be doing what he loves but he'll be doing it for the last time in high school. Chad is driven by dreams of playing college baseball.
"His life is going to go from black-and-white to color," Julie Eaton said. "Chad is very, very excited, especially because his doctor told him that once he has the surgery his pitching speed is going to go up 10 miles an hour."
Campbell Hall plans to incorporate live video feeds in classrooms and at its baseball field to keep Eaton as involved as possible during the eight- to 10-week recovery process.
"His teammates are like brothers to him," Julie Eaton said. "He won't be able to work out with his team but he'll be in the dugout with them through video."