Scot Pollard’s Transplant Journey: A Big Heart for a Big Legend

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A tall man in a hospital room, wearing a hospital gown and standing with a walker.

Scot Pollard stands with a walker in a hospital room during his care as he underwent a heart transplant. Photo provided by the Pollard family.

At 6’11”, Scot Pollard’s size has often been credited as a gift, propelling him into an 11-year NBA career following his legendary time with the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team, during which he helped Kansas reach the NCAA Sweet 16 four seasons in a row.

In 2021, Pollard’s heart health began to rapidly decline due to a hereditary condition exacerbated by a contracted virus. It eventually became apparent that most medical solutions would not be enough. He needed a new heart, and more than that, he needed a really big one.

The respective body size of an organ donor and a registered transplant candidate are factors in determining whether a successful transplant is possible – especially for a heart. In the case of someone as large as Pollard, the odds of finding a match are lower.

“It’s not like being tall is a curse. It’s not. It’s still a blessing. But, I have known my entire life that there’s a good chance I wasn’t going to get old,” said Pollard in an interview with the Associated Press. “And so it gives you a different perspective on how you live your life and how you treat people and all that kind of stuff.”

Pollard and his wife, Dawn, revealed his condition on social media in January. They went on to post updates and participate in news interviews to share his progress, which in turn raised national awareness for the complexities surrounding organ transplantation and the importance of organ donation.

He underwent a successful heart transplant surgery on Feb. 16, after which he “immediately felt better.” Just 13 days later, he strutted out of the hospital to a chorus of applause.

Through this journey, Pollard has learned about the lifesaving gift of organ donation, and even hopes to one day connect with the family of his donor hero. “I would love to show them this heart isn’t going to waste.” Every donor hero can save up to eight lives, and Pollard hopes that by educating his friends, neighbors and fans, he can contribute to this life-saving work. “I’m going to annoy people with becoming a donor. That’s going to be a project for the rest of my life,” he said.

In honor of National Donate Life Month, Midwest Transplant Network is proud to recognize Scot Pollard as a Green Ribbon Champion for his openness about his transplant journey and advocacy for organ donation. Green Ribbon Champions are individuals who are passionate about increasing the number of registered organ donors in their communities, understanding that a simple “yes” can help give hope and share life to the thousands in need of life-saving organ transplants.

Midwest Transplant Network invites you to consider joining your state’s organ donor registry and encourage others to do the same. Learn more about the types of donation, including the option to be a living donor, and the incredibly positive emotional experiences of organ donor families and transplant recipients.

Join the organ, eye and tissue donor registry in Kansas and Missouri at or join the national donor registry at