Caleb Torbett, a 15-year old rising sophomore at Marianna High School is what many would deem a walking miracle. In 2015, Caleb was 13 years old and diagnosed with high blood pressure, something that threw his parents off a bit. Not many active teenagers are diagnosed with what was ruled extremely high blood pressure at such a young age. Caleb was put on medication but the headaches continued and his blood pressure stayed consistently in 150/160/170 range over high 80/90 range.
This past April, Caleb lost his grandmother, Gloria Peacock, very unexpectedly and shortly after that, he woke up in the middle of the night disoriented. His mom and dad immediately took him to Jackson Hospital emergency room. When they arrived at the ER, Caleb’s blood pressure was extremely elevated and the level of concern for his parents had maxed out. He was released to see his pediatrician the following day at which time he was sent to Nemours in Pensacola to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist). After an ultra sound, it was determined that Caleb was indeed very fortunate to be alive. The right kidney had no function at all and it was five centimeters larger than the left kidney. The doctor explained there was some type of blockage to the kidney and that he was off sports, weightlifting, anything until they could determine what course to take. Caleb’s mom, Dana Torbett explains, “Caleb had a summer ball game that night and he looked at the doctor and said, ‘But I can play tonight right?’ That’s when the doctor made it so clear to us how fortunate he was not to have sustained a hit or a blow to his body that could have proved fatal. So Caleb did not play that night.” (Or any other time since that day). We all realized then how serious the situation was. Caleb was put on medication, three pills in the morning and three at night until a surgeon could be located. The surgery was performed robotically in Orlando at Arnold Palmer’s Children’s Hospital August 1. The surgery took five hours, with a stint being put in to correct and reverse the problem. Rex and Dana Torbett said what they were told after the fact was even more shocking. Caleb was born with this issue, it was not something that was developed. The increased blood pressure was a result of his heart overworking, trying to correct the kidney problem. Dana says he had complained of back pain but they attributed it to not stretching enough, or something to do with sports.
About how all of this has affected Caleb who is entering his sophomore year at Marianna High School, “It’s been hard, very hard. I’m not used to sitting here and not being able to do anything. I’ve lost 12 pounds when I would normally have gained 20 from working out over the summer and conditioning in the weight room.” Caleb has missed his summer baseball season, summer football workouts and will miss this year in football. He was the quarterback on junior varsity last year and safety on varsity. All that pales in comparison to what he’s been through in the last two months. As far as his prognosis for the future and where sports will be in that future, “With total success from the surgery and the kidneys reversing themselves, maybe 75% that I can play football, and 100% for baseball. I won’t be able to catch in baseball though.” Caleb has pitched, caught, and played shortstop throughout his baseball life.
Caleb doesn’t hesitate to give thanks for where he is today, “I thank God above all, my dad, mom, and my family for being there, and the doctors for finding out what they did and fixing me.”
The Torbetts are and have always been a Christian family and have raised their three sons in a Christian environment. With this tragedy, they quickly turned to who they have always trusted. Caleb’s dad Rex Torbett said of this event in their lives, “First of all, I am amazed by God’s grace, mercy and protection upon Caleb. We have played two years of football and baseball with an inflamed right kidney that we did not know about. Where one wrong tackle, one hit by pitch, one wrong contact from possibly rupturing his kidney. That in itself could have possibly been life threatening. Sports kind of become unimportant when you think about it that way. I love sports and am not sure if anyone values the life lessons that sports teach us more than me. Sports teach discipline, to work hard, to be a good teammate, how to handle failure and so much more. If you have never played sports, you don’t understand it. if you have, you know just what I am talking about. Dana and I love watching our three boys play ball. They have all been blessed with the abilities to play multiple sports. We are at a point in their lives that we get to sit back and watch them become the person/player that God has designed them to be. It is going to be a weird feeling because this will be the first time in seven or eight years that one of our boys will not be putting on a football uniform to represent our community. However, because of God’s protection, Caleb will get to continue to play ball, just not this football season. This will be Riley’s senior year so we will still get to watch him play soccer this fall and who knows maybe we will get to watch both, Riley and Caleb, on the diamond this spring. In all of this, we want our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, to get the praise he so deserves. He protected Caleb, He lead us to the right doctors, he gave us safe travel to and from Orlando, He watched over Caleb during those four and a half hours of surgery, He is strengthening his body each day, He is surrounding us with people that love and care about us, He is giving us the understanding that it is through Him and Him alone that we gain our strength and it will be in His time that Caleb will be healed and back to playing.”
Caleb’s mother offers much of the same, “We are so blessed that God looked after him all those years that we had no idea. The headaches, backaches, we all attributed to aches and pains kids go through. Any one hit on a football field on behind the plate could have ended his life.”