Flying home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Royal Marine James King had a different kind of battle on his hands. His three-year-old son was fighting for his life and in desperate need of a kidney. And after fighting for his country, the 29-year-old did not hesitate in attending to his familial duties when he landed in the UK, and promptly donated an organ.
Kicking a football with his son a few months later, it looks like a case of mission accomplished.
It seems that King’s son was born with a chronic kidney condition and when he came down with peritonitis, his life was in danger. Read the article here (Daily Mail, 3/18/10). The boy’s father was found to be a tissue match and immediately volunteered to be the donor, but doctors said that the child would have to reach age seven before they’d be willing to perform the surgery. But “Little James’s” infection grew worse. Doctors feared he wouldn’t make it to that age, so they took the risk of going ahead with the operation. It looks like a success and apparently “Little James” shows it.
And today the boy’s mother Louise, 33, said the operation has given him a new lease of life. She said: ‘It has all gone really well. ‘There are a few underlying issues, but physically James is a lot stronger and like any other child, he doesn’t stop running and has got more energy.’ She continued: ‘Before, he got tired and would not have managed a whole hour of exercise. ‘He definitely needed the kidney transplant and the earlier he got it, the better. ‘It was not nice for him being on dialysis and now this will take him through the most important years of his life.’
Kidney dialysis is brutal for anyone, but for a small child it must be horrendous. With any luck, it’s a thing of the past for “Little James.”
Royal Marine James King was on a tour of duty in Afghanistan when the date was set for his son’s surgery. He flew back when his tour ended last November and underwent the operation at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Marine King, who is currently based in Plymouth, spent three weeks recovering from the three hour operation in hospital. After the operation, Marine King said at the family home in Yeovil, Somerset: ‘Louise and a lot of our relatives had tests to see if they were a match, but I really wanted it to be me so that I could do this for him. ‘Luckily so far it has worked, and it’s a miracle how much he’s changed.’ Now that James’ body has accepted the new organ, he is expected to start school in September.
There are still those who pretend that fathers aren’t necessary to children, that they’re optional, like wire wheels or leather upholstery on a car. Because of his dad’s sacrifice, we can now be confident that “Little James” King will grow up to be an adult. When he does, I wonder what he’ll say about the importance of fathers to children.