Baldwin High coach needs lung transplant

By Matt Hughs

Editor’s note: Hughs first wrote this piece as part of her internship at Herald Community Newspapers. To read the original, click here.

In January, Anthony Bolden, 40, was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent five rounds of chemotherapy through April, when the cancer went into remission. While the chemotherapy treated the cancer, it also damaged his lungs. In May, Bolden was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that causes scarring in the lungs and put him in dire need of a lung transplant.

Bolden is a Baldwin High alumnus and athlete who played football and basketball for the school. After graduation in 2000, he became a semi-professional football player for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Las Vegas.

Bolden returned to Baldwin in 2010 and became assistant coach for the varsity basketball, football and track teams at Baldwin High. He has held these positions ever since. During this time, Bolden had a son named Anthony Bolden Jr., who is now 6 years old.

Ed Ramirez, the Baldwin High sports director, said Bolden’s diagnosis “has been tough on everyone in the community…He is an amazing mentor, father, and has been a tremendous asset to the district for the time he has been here.”

Ramirez said Bolden has been hospitalized since the first week of May. Upon admission, doctors thought he had pneumonia or Covid-19, but later realized that Bolden’s lung problems were related to the chemotherapy.

Bolden, top right, with the Baldwin High School Girls Basketball in 2018. // Courtesy Tom Catapano

Bolden is being treated at NYU Langone Hospital in Mineola, but has been rejected as a lung transplant candidate there. Bolden and his family are currently working to “find a medical facility that will accept him for a lung transplant or rehabilitate him to the point where he can get accepted for a transplant.”

“Anthony can no longer breathe without the help of an ECMO machine, a machine that oxygenates his blood,” Ramirez said. “He’s stable on the ECMO, but the fear is the longer he is waiting, the more of a chance an opportunistic condition presents itself.” Bolden’s condition makes him more susceptible to bacterial and viral infection, which could worsen his current condition.

Ramirez said Bolden is staying strong mentally and is hopeful that he will be able to find a medical center that will accept him as a lung transplant or rehab patient.

Bolden is currently being covered financially by his health insurance through the Baldwin Union School district, the NYSHIP Empire Plan. Bolden’s chemotherapy should be covered by insurance, but the Empire policy does not state about coverage for prolonged stays in hospitals or on ECMO machines.

To help Bolden when his insurance coverage runs out, Tom Catapano, coach at Baldwin High School and friend of Bolden’s, started a gofundme page to help him cover medical costs and take care of his son AJ, who is staying strong with his father, but has many questions.

Ramirez added, “Anthony Bolden’s impact on the students and the sports program in the school district is immeasurable. I cannot stress enough the impact he has had on the lives of young men and women he has mentored as a coach for football, basketball and track.”

Both Ramirez and Catapano said Bolden is family to everyone at Baldwin High, and they are all invested in his returning to school healthy.