Brother’s kid­ney gift of free­dom

New­ly­wed steps up when their fa­ther is un­able to do­nate

Weekend Herald - - News - Brit­tany Keogh

Jesse Dick has known since his lit­tle brother was born he would one day be called on to save his life.

Nathanael Dick, now 9, was born with lim­ited func­tion in one kid­ney and none in the other. His fam­ily was told he would even­tu­ally need a kid­ney trans­plant. His brother was a blood type match.

So on April 20, four months af­ter his wed­ding, where Nathanael was page boy, Jesse flew to Auck­land from In­ver­cargill for the op­er­a­tion.

Jesse was 15 when Nathanael was born in South­land, where he lives with his par­ents Carla and Grant Dick and eight of his nine si­b­lings.

Af­ter he was di­ag­nosed, tests showed Jesse and Grant were blood type matches, mak­ing them suitable kid­ney donors.

They planned for Grant to do­nate a kid­ney first and Jesse to give another later in life as do­nated kid­neys usu­ally only last about 15 years.

“We knew from early on that he would need a donor so I was al­ways pre­pared to be the one,” Jesse said.

The self-pro­fessed adren­a­line junkie, who man­ages a surf and skate store, told the Week­end Her­ald he had a kid­ney-shaped tat­too on his arm as a re­minder not to push him­self too hard or do any­thing stupid.

“It’s just a lit­tle re­minder that Nathanael needed me alive and healthy. Binge drink­ing and do­ing drugs and stuff — I stayed away from a lot of that,” he said.

Jesse had also bat­tled de­pres­sion and know­ing Nathanael needed him kept him go­ing dur­ing dark times in his life.

The fam­ily had thought Nathanael’s ex­ist­ing kid­ney would keep func­tion­ing un­til he was at least 10. How­ever, the need for a trans­plant came ear­lier than ex­pected af­ter Nathanael went into kid­ney fail­ure ear­lier this year.

Af­ter Grant un­der­went tests to pre­pare for the surgery, doc­tors told him he could not do­nate his kid­ney be­cause of the ef­fect it would have on his own health.

“[ Jesse] said ‘I’ve got this dad. I don’t want you to worry about it. I’ve got this. I’ve al­ways known this is my job and I’m go­ing to do it’.

“That was his at­ti­tude from the be­gin­ning, which is awe­some.”

The broth­ers had the surgery at Auck­land City Hos­pi­tal.

Watch­ing two of their sons un­dergo ma­jor surgery was dif­fi­cult for Grant and his wife.

“It’s re­ally been ab­so­lutely mixed emo­tions,” he said.

“Know­ing that your son is go­ing into hos­pi­tal to have an op­er­a­tion that he doesn’t ac­tu­ally need — some­one else needs — is a hard thing to watch.

“But it’s also an awe­some thing to see your son step up and not even think about it and do it un­selfishly.”

With­out the trans­plant Nathanael would have had to be on dial­y­sis for life.

“It just means free­dom for him,” Grant said.

Carla said al­though Nathanael re­alised Jesse had given him a “real gift”, he prob­a­bly would not re­alise the mag­ni­tude of the trans­plant un­til he was much older.

Both Jesse and Nathanael are re­cov­er­ing well. Carla and Nathanael will stay in Ron­ald McDon­ald House in Auck­land un­til early June, while Grant and Jesse will re­turn to the South Is­land soon, along with the si­b­lings.

The fam­ily had spent about seven weeks apart while Carla and Nathanael were in Auck­land pre­par­ing for the surgery.

ASB Bank flew Grant and the cou­ple’s other chil­dren to Auck­land to sur­prise Carla the week­end be­fore the surgery.

Photo / Jason Ox­en­ham

The kid­ney trans­plant from big brother Jesse Dick means free­dom for 9-year-old Nathanael Dick.

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