Nation’s No. 1 Sophomore Center Prospect Maintains Positive Attitude
McEachern boys basketball standout JD Palm is a five-star prospect with high hopes for his basketball future, but right now the Indians sophomore is needing an assist off the court. The 6- foot, 10-inch center, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at that position, has been diagnosed with a severe kidney ailment known as FSGS, which has put the 17-year-old on a national transplant waiting list.
The ailment has taken him away from the game he loves. But a new kidney could change that.
Palm’s mother, Candice, told ITG Next that the first sign of trouble for her son came last year, when the family was still living in Dothan, Alabama.
“Before we moved to Georgia, JD came to me and was complaining about headaches,” she said.
At first, the headaches were happening about once every week or two, she said. When the family moved to Georgia, they started getting worse. The concerned mom knew something was wrong with her son.
“It was August 29th of last year,” she recalled. “I remember that date like it was yesterday.”
That was when she took her son to the emergency room. Nurses took her son’s blood pressure.
“It was 230 over 117,” she said. “The nurses told me that couldn’t be right.”
Unfortunately, another check of JD’s blood pressure confirmed the abnormally high reading, and he was given medicine to get his blood pressure under control. Then he was transferred to Atlanta’s Children’s Hospital, where doctors suspected it was JD’s kidneys. A biopsy confirmed their fears.
“JD’s kidneys were functioning at only 10 percent,” his mother said.
Palm remained in ICU for a week while doctors worked to get his kidneys functioning at a more acceptable level. They were able to get him stable, and he was released from the hospital, but with very specific orders that included plenty of rest and a strict food selection.
“The doctors released him with instructions to follow a very strict diet, and he was allowed to play basketball this past season,” said McEachern head basketball coach Tremayne Anchrum.
It was not easy for Palm, the McEachern coach said: “JD had his ups and downs throughout the season as far as his health was concerned. He never practiced more than two or three days at a time, and his energy levels were always down depending on how he ate and slept.”
After battling through the 2022-23 basketball season for McEachern, Anchrum said the news on Palm was not too good.
“Once the season ended, he went back to the doctors in February, and they suspected his kidneys were operating at around 15%,” Anchrum recalled. “They told JD that he would need to begin dialysis immediately.”
But the doctors weren’t through.
“They said he couldn’t play anymore basketball until he gets a new kidney,” Anchrum said.
So the search is underway. JD’s mom is currently being tested to see if she is a match. The process to determine compatibility can take a few weeks, so it’s a wait-and-see approach for the Palm family right now. That could take close to a year, according to Candice.
Meanwhile, JD has begun receiving dialysis, and the family is undergoing training so that the treatment can be done at home.
“He will have to have dialysis for eight hours every night,” she said.
Candice said that an earlier test in the hospital revealed the kidney disease her son has is hereditary. She said she had suspected that was the case.
“My mom was diagnosed with this at the age of 34,” she said.
JD’s grandmother remained on dialysis for the rest of her life without ever receiving a donor kidney. However, in JD’s case, doctors are optimistic one will be located.
“They told me the chances of finding a matching kidney are very high,” Candice said.
Former NBA Players Offer Encouragement
The clinical name of the disease that has affected Palm is known as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. Anchrum said he was educated about the disease from a well-known former NBA player, who has battled through the condition.
“We were talking to Alonzo Mourning, and he really educated us on this disease,” said Anchrum. “He told us 37 million people in America are living with this disease, and 35 percent of those are black or brown.”
The NBA veteran was diagnosed with the disease late in his career, as was Sean Elliott, another former NBA player who was diagnosed about 10 years earlier. Each received a kidney transplant and was able to resume his career.
Anchrum asked both players to talk to Palm about what they had been through.
“I got JD in touch with Alonzo and Sean, and they have mentored him through this tough process,” Anchrum said. “They reminded him that they made it through and still played, and that he will, too.”
The McEachern coach said it did wonders for Palm: “His spirits got better once he spoke with Alonzo and Sean.”
The nation’s overall No. 15-rated player is continuing to stay positive.
“I’m doing good,” Palm told ITG Next. “It’s just a process I know I’ve got to get through.”
He said he is thankful for the outpouring of support he has received, and that helps him remain positive about the future.
“Everyone around me is encouraging me, and that means a lot,” Palm said. “I really appreciate everyone’s support.
“I know I’ll play again,” Palm added.
“My son is looking forward to getting through all this – and he will,” Candice said.
Mom always knows best.
If you’d like to help JD Palm, the family has a Go Fund Me page where you can do so. Click here to learn more and donate.