Brian Crockett donated a kidney to his son on Nov. 11, 2008.
“I would have given him both of them if that needed to be done,” Brian Crockett said. “The odd thing about it is I’m nervous to go to the doctor or the dentist. I wasn’t at all and I can’t explain why, but I felt very at ease going in and through the procedure. The recovery was what I expected and told it would be. Basically, take it easy for six weeks or so.
“It’s been 11 years now and I don’t feel any different,” the elder Crockett added. “The weird thing is I can tell when he’s racing. I feel like part of me is with him. I can almost feel it. I can almost sense it. I have the nervousness as if I was there watching.”
Roger Crockett stayed in Portland, Ore., where the transplant took place, for approximately six weeks after the procedure.
“I woke up from the surgery and I felt like I wanted to get up and run around,” he said. “I didn’t realize how unhealthy I was (before the surgery). I started declining when I was born and slowly got worse. I was tired and didn’t have energy and stuff like that. I was only worried about racing, so they were able to schedule it at the end of racing season. I never missed a beat racing-wise.”
Crockett also landed a new racing opportunity and spent the offseason building a racing program in only a few months.
“We built an entire team from scratch that winter we got a transplant and my first race was in March,” he said. “It was a pretty cool feat to go from barely being able to do anything to doing all of that over the winter. It was super cool.”
It also had a bit of risk to it, which continues to linger.
“I do the transplant and the last thing they told me before I left the hospital was, ‘Just remember, stay away from dust and people,’” he said. “I was like wait a minute. I generally don’t shake people’s hands. That’s why. I have to be careful because when your immune system is low, you’re more prone to getting infections, getting colds.”
Crockett noted there were some early complications with rejection, but that was lined out. He continues to see a kidney doctor and has lab work done every three months.
“I’ve been pretty steady,” he said. “With as young as I am, hopefully, it’ll last forever. If I live a long, healthy life, I’ll probably need to do it again. Right now, my labs don’t look as good as five years ago, but they still look pretty good.
“They say expect 10 to 12 years out of it. Common would be 20 years. Beyond that it’s not nearly as often. We keep an eye on my labs and the kidney function. If it starts to decline rapidly, that would start that process again.”
Crockett returned to racing with gusto, winning a career-best 22 features the season following his transplant. Prior to the 2018 season he and his wife, Brandi, relocated to Broken Arrow, Okla., an area of the country that provides a better opportunity for racing as well as more optimal logistics for their business — Rocket Designs.
Crockett also fulfilled a dream last year when he completed a season on the ASCS National Tour for the first time, finishing third in the standings thanks to two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 21 top-10 results in 31 starts. He also earned a third victory during a local show in Missouri.
“I feel like if I can keep the race team funded, I can get back to where my best years are ahead of me,” he said. “I need to race 50 to 60 times a year to do that. It comes down to having someone full time on the car. We always wash the race car on Sunday or Monday. A lot of times, I’m doing maintenance right before we leave because that’s all the time I have.
“What makes it tough is I’m very, very competitive and I know what I’ve done in the past and I know what I’m capable of,” Crockett continued. “We feel like we can win more races than we did this year.”
Crockett learned at a young age to appreciate the moment, whether it’s in victory lane or simply spending time with his family. His father gave him a second chance at life 11 years ago, and while the necessity of another transplant is likely destined for the future, the moment right now is too good to miss.