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Dad donates kidney to his young son
IT is the most precious gift a father can give his son – the gift of life.
When Evan Bartlett was suddenly diagnosed with complete kidney failure following a rare mystery disease, dad Paul didn’t think twice about donating one of his own to save his little boy’s life.
Today seven-year-old Evan, who proudly lifts up his T-shirt and cradles the large bulge beneath the scar on the right side of his tiny tummy, is thriving and calls his dad his superhero.
But Paul says it is the least he could have done and for him it’s the simple moments that are the most rewarding – such as seeing his only son being able to eat and drink freely without difficulties.
The 51-year-old said: “As soon as we were told what Evan needed I didn’t think twice. I just knew it was something that had to be done so it didn’t faze me at all.
“I felt relieved I was compatible and could help him.”
Paul and his wife Mary took Evan to the doctors in March last year after their normally healthy son became pale, lethargic and started guzzling water and gagging whenever he had anything in his mouth.
They were told by their GP it was a behavioural problem but the couple asked for blood tests.
Paul and Mary returned to their Sholing home but were suddenly awoken by an urgent phone call the following morning at 4.30am from the hospital demanding Evan was admitted to A&E immediately.
The family were then dealt a devastating blow when they received more alarming test results.
They were told Evan had end stage kidney failure, a deteriorating condition with no cure and his only hope of recovery was a transplant.
His parathyroid hormone (PTH) level in his body was off the scale and meant he had high levels of acid in his blood damaging his bones and affecting his organs and the ‘creatinine’ level, a way of measuring kidney function, was exceedingly high.
Paul said: “You hear the word transplant and that word is so cut and dried. We were both absolutely shocked, it sounded so final. We just hugged Evan on the hospital bed trying to take it in. It changed our lives overnight.”
But Evan didn’t have to look far for a willing donor. Both his parents immediately volunteered to give the ultimate gift and both were compatible. However, they decided it should be his father, who is older, who donated his organ first so his mother can in future.
Mary, 39, said: “He’s our only child and it’s just the immediate instinct you have to do something if the key to his better health lies in you. You’d do anything.”
Paul underwent the gruelling process to donate, devoting his time to many appointments in London to check his suitability while Evan prepared for the lifechanging operation.
But Mary, a dental nurse, explained the hardest part was the operation day on November 13 last year.
Both took part in two different hospitals in London and Mary was called into theatre to comfort her son when there were complications due to Paul’s kidney having an extra artery.
Mary said: “Evan is small for his age so he was on the borderline on whether or not he can have an adult kidney but if it’s a baby or small child they have to have a child’s kidney. He’s still got his two kidneys at the back and Paul’s has gone in at the front.”
Thanks to the operation the family’s life is now starting to get back to normal.
Evan went back to school at Sholing Infants School and his dad is back at work as a damage mitigation technician.
But Evan still has to continually attend hospital appointments and there is always a risk of the body rejecting a transplanted organ – the couple’s biggest fear.
It is also thought Evan will need additional transplants in the future due to the life of a donated organ being between 10 and 15 years.
And the couple are still waiting to find out the underlying cause of the kidney failure with Evan’s blood test results now being studied in Michigan.
However, Evan is thriving.
Rather than gagging on every mouthful he is able to enjoy meal times and is facing a healthier future.
Now a mum from Evan’s school, Taymar Green, has helped the couple in a fundraising effort for Southampton General Hospital ward.
A balloon release for Evan, who loves drawing pictures and writing fairytales, raised £175 for the G4 Nephrology Ward.
The couple have also organised a fundraising pub quiz taking place on Friday, September 20 at the Conservative Club in St Denys and also hope to find a venue for a Mad Hatters’ Tea Party.
But despite the support from their friends, family and the hospital staff, Paul and Mary say they have found their strength through Evan.
Mary, who said little Evan loves having his dad’s kidney because he chats to him when he is not there, said: “How can you be down and miserable around a child? You just have to smile and get on with it.”
Paul added: “The day we were told it sounded so final, but we’ve come out the other end and he’s doing so well.
“He’s an amazing boy. You just have to take every day as it comes and family time is even more precious now.”
You could save a life by adding your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register. Go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23
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