For Rifle Correctional Center inmate and his mother, it’s all about family and health
RIFLE, Colorado – Tammy Avila-Spear goes for dialysis treatments three days a week. She needs a transplant, but she hopes to have her son as the donor.There’s a problem, though. Her son Kentson Avila is in prison, and federal law prohibits him from being a donor until he’s released.Kentson is ready, willing and able. But he must wait until he’s released, and that won’t be for a few more years.
Kentson is serving an 8-year prison sentence for felony distribution from a 2004 Montrose conviction. He’s currently serving his sentence at the Rifle Correctional Center near Rifle Gap Reservoir.Tammy’s health is a constant concern. That worry weighs heavy on Kentson and Russ Spear, Tammy’s husband and Kentson’s stepdad.She’s a diabetic, has high blood pressure and recently had a pair of heart attacks that went undetected until a doctor’s visit.However, the main area of concern is her kidney trouble. She’s in serious need of a transplant. She’s on the donor list, but she’d prefer not to have a cadaver kidney.Getting off drugs is the key to Kentson’s future. It could also be the key to Tammy’s future.”I think I should have come (to prison), because if I was still out there, there was no way I’d be in any kind of shape to be doing that anyway,” he said about donating a kidney to his mother.
“No, there’s no way they’d allow that,” Tammy agreed.Now, thanks to prison, Kentson is off drugs and is on the inmate firefighting team. That means he needs to be in superb physical condition.Without help from insurance, Tammy says her monthly prescription bill would be $5,000, and the dialysis costs alone would be $27,000 a month.Tammy works on being positive. She quit her Telluride job and now works at home as an accountant. That’s helped lower her stress level.”Life is too short. I have a life agenda, and I’m not done yet,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not the healthiest one (at dialysis) but attitude-wise, I’m the healthiest.”His mom’s health is just one more thing that torments Kentson about his past. He frets over what his arrest and prison sentence have done to his parents. But now, his positive attitude has taken over.
He knows that when he gets out, he will be ready to be a donor.Russ quit his job as a commercial pilot to cut down on his travel time and be home more. He now works as a salesman for DTS Fluid Power in Montrose.Three lives have dramatically changed since Kentson was sent to prison in 2004. But Kentson, Tammy and Russ all believe that there’s a bright future for everyone.They all know that a positive attitude is the way to approach the future.For now, Tammy will hope that she can wait long enough to have Kentson donate his kidney to her.”It’s all about family,” she said with a smile.
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