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On being a kidney donor

Pic of Will I took tonight — he’s absolutely fine, just lying on the floor being a bit silly!

I guess the title sets it out what is happening. Everyone I work with and my close family already know about it, but I felt like something needed to be said to the “cyber world” out there, whether this be to Yammer folks, or Twitter people, or distant friends on Facebook, or just folks that I haven’t seen in a long time.

My eldest son Will was born with a whole host of medical problems, primarily kidney and bladder issues. He was born with only one kidney, and that one never worked particularly well. About a year ago we were told it was showing signs of failing and that a transplant would likely be necessary. Sort of shocking, sort of what we’ve been expecting for years.

And that’s where I came into it. For a variety of reasons it became clear that I was the best match for Will. We started the cross-match process about six months ago, in which I went for a variety of tests and scans, and also got told I should lose some weight — which I promptly did! Well, over six months that is, and I have dropped about 10kg, which I constantly get told is very noticeable!

So as it stands now, we’re doing the transplant this Thursday, November 8. The date has been fixed for a month or two now, and now it’s just a bit over 24 hours away. Despite occasionally feeling the jitters, I’m okay with the whole situation — not worried really, and quite confident with how things have progressed. Being seen by good people, just like Will is.

Of course, the nerves are more for my son and his position. He’s been in and out of hospitals for his whole life, and is pretty well across the issues he has and the procedures he needs to have. It’s only an 8 year olds’ knowledge, but it’s there, and to his credit he doesn’t show worry much either. It’s not even his first big operation this year, let alone ever…

I’m down in Sydney now with my wife, Sallie, and Will (and baby Ben, he’s just here for the company!) They’ve been here since August, since Will went on to dialysis — an unfortunate necessity. He’s never minded of course, it just meant our family was split up for quite some time (our other two boys are back home with their grandmother). He had a previous big operation in June that made sure we had to wait months more for this one, but here we are now.

So really, I keep telling myself it’s no big deal, that I’ll be in and out inside a week at the most, that it won’t be too bad in terms of discomfort. Nothing I can’t handle. And while that’s basically true, of course I know it is a pretty big thing to do for my son. I think it’s something any parent would do of course, but fortunately most don’t need to. But now I do — and I can do it.

I’ve kept wondering if there was something I could say about organ-donation in general. I read sometimes about altruistic kidney donors, mostly in the UK. Could I have done that? Honestly, I have to admit, probably not. That’s a tough one, and all credit to the people who do it. As for the other kind of organ donation — well, everyone should sign the consent form on their licence. If you don’t need it any more, why not? And if I lost a family member I’d consider it some small comfort to know they could help others live. What’s the down side? What’s the reason to say no, at any stage?

But that’s not what this is about. This is about me helping my son because I can. As I’m sure anyone would. It’s not without risk, but really, anything worth doing has some of that. Should be in hospital until about next Monday or Tuesday, won’t do much for a few weeks, won’t be home until December at least, maybe not until Christmas. Might not go back to work until next year, but I don’t have to decide yet. Not really a problem, and everyone at work has been so supportive — Coonabarabran High School, great place, great people.

So I have one more day before it goes down, but I wait with excitement. Better things to come when it’s done 🙂

 could use this pic endlessly… three of the four boys: Alex, Lachie and Will (l-r).


  1. Kay Kirkpatrick
    Kay Kirkpatrick November 7, 2012

    Stephen – that’s left me speechless. Beautifully, beautifully written. Knew about your computing skills of course, but not about your writing.
    Every positive thought going to you and your family. Hope all goes perfectly for you and Will, and that you and Sallie and the lads are able to settle into a more predictable routine in the very near future.

  2. Deb Hogg
    Deb Hogg November 7, 2012

    Hi Stephen
    Big news! Big operation! Thanks for sharing your situation with your crowd/cloud of supporters. Will be saying prayers that all goes well for you both – and for your support team who will also be having a rough time with all this too! We rely on the skill of surgeons but there is more to getting through this than that and I am amazed at your resolve and clear thinking about these big issues.
    We will wait for the good news… all the best!
    God bless! Kind regards, Deb

  3. Tegan Townsend
    Tegan Townsend November 7, 2012


    I’ll keep this short and sweet. All the best to you and your family, epsecially Will. I’m sure this will make a massive difference to Will’s life and I know everything will go smoothly!


  4. Kim Warner
    Kim Warner November 7, 2012

    Your story really hit home for me on a few fronts. Firstly, I can relate to having a child who is in and out of hospital from birth. And secondly last year, one of my students had a kidney transplant. He was 8 years old and his father was the donor.
    When I visited him at Westmead a few days after the operation he was in very good spirits and his mum said that he had not complained of any pain at all – Dad was a different story though.
    I wish you both well for this stage of your journey. I is a remarkable thing that you are able to do for your son.

  5. Fin McArtney
    Fin McArtney November 7, 2012

    Best of luck to you and your son Mr Turner.

    My 58 y/o father has hereditary renal failure and has now been on the waiting list for a transplant for 8 years. Hopefully, everyday brings us closer to one as well – Unfortunately I’m not a match.

    I know its a personal choice, but it really makes me sad more people won’t donate; You’re exactly right, If you don’t need it anymore – Why not?
    Luckily my kidneys are perfect, so maybe I’ll donate one day! (Hopefully not to my own children)

    Hope everything goes great. I’ll be thinking of you guys tomorrow.

  6. Jennifer Jurman
    Jennifer Jurman November 7, 2012

    Dearest Stephen and family
    Thank you so very much for sharing your story. My family is praying for you all. We are sending al our love and positive energy : ) . Are you at The Westmead Children’s Hospital? Please let us know. Gracie (7) and Zac (4) would like to send a letter to Will. Lots and lots of love, The Jurman-Hilton Family xxx

  7. brenda leeson
    brenda leeson November 8, 2012

    Dear Steve,
    Thanks a lot for u shared ur update news about willy. This morning surprisely i saw great gift of ur transplant donor to ur dear son. Wow u r amazing
    Dad to him. Pray for both of ur and willy`s ops will be successful.

  8. Stu Hasic
    Stu Hasic November 10, 2012

    You hear from time to time about people donating a kidney to their relatives, but I never thought I would know a person who did this. Stephen, your love for Will and your family is truly boundless. You generally share selflessly with others, but this is completely above and beyond as far as your friends and acquaintances are concerned and it simply goes to show how much everyone has to learn from you and your actions.

    Thanks for sharing this sad but heartwarming story as well. You’re an inspiration to us all. Wishing both you and Will a speedy recovery and a healthy and happy future.

  9. Kelly
    Kelly November 10, 2012

    Stephen, thank you for sharing your moving story, You are such a generous person, I feel I know you for all the help you’ve given me in yammer. It is so beautiful, this gift you’ve given your son. All the best for a speedy recovery for all and I hope you are all together again very soon. Take care. Kell

  10. Cherine Spirou
    Cherine Spirou November 14, 2012

    Dear Stephen,

    Thank you for sharing. You’re story has hit home on a front for me, I will share with you personally one day. He’s very lucky to have you as a compatible match. Not many people have that and Wil is very lucky indeed.
    I pray that the operation went well and you both have a very speedy recovery.

    Take care

  11. Marcos
    Marcos November 17, 2012

    Hi Stephen,
    im a Friend of your brother,Wayne.Hope everything works out well.Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time

  12. Sharon Tooney
    Sharon Tooney November 20, 2012

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. Will is a very lucky little man to have a wonderful father like yourself. You say in your blog that it is what any parent would do, but unfortunately that is not always true. Never under estimate the amazing gift you are giving your son and the strength of character of yourself as a person that it is given so selflessly.
    I wish both you and Will a speedy recovery and look forward to hearing good news in your next blog.
    Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful christmas and a bright and healthy new year.
    Will is a wonderful inspiration to us all.
    Best Wishes Sharon

  13. Jason Towers
    Jason Towers November 20, 2012

    Stephen, thanks for sharing your story. All the best to you & the family.

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