Me and my 'Superdad': Boy, 10, receives kidney from father after his body attacks his own organs
Raphael had one-in-a-million condition that caused his body to attack his kidneys
12:01 GMT, 13 March 2012
When his son was diagnosed with a rare medical condition that attacked his kidneys, Duane Harvard, 51, didn't think twice about donating one of his own.
But his grateful 10-year-old son Raphael has nicknamed him 'Superdad' as a result.
'I don’t think of that, it was a
privilege, an honour, it’s the least I could have done,' Mr Harvard said.
'But he does appreciate it. When he takes his medication he is doing it for me in a way, he knows he has to look after the kidney.'
Recovery: Raphael Harvard and his father Duane at Great Ormond Street Hospital after the kidney transplant
Mr Havard and his wife Anna, 35, from
Bedford, took Raphael to the doctors in February 2011 after he began feeling unwell. He was originally diagnosed with a
stomach bug and later with gastritis.
But as his condition continued to worsen
over the next few days, he was rushed to hospital.
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) with the then nine year-old’s
alarming test results.
His 'creatinine' level, a way of
measuring kidney function, was exceedingly high – the average level for a
child is 30-57 micromoles per litre and Raphael’s was 1,044 – showing
his kidneys were not filtering his blood.
'They just put him in an ambulance – we
live 70 miles from London and they drove him all the way there on blue
lights,' Mr Havard said.
Surgery: Raphael, 10, suffered total kidney failure after his immune system attacked those organs
Close bond: Duane Harvard (left) said it was a privilege to donate a kidney to his son
At Great Ormond Street Raphael was diagnosed with complete kidney failure, caused by the rare condition Goodpasture’s Syndrome.
The disease means the body’s own immune system reacts against some parts of itself, creating antibodies that attack the lungs and kidneys. It has to be treated with immunosuppressive drugs to stop this process.
Raphael initially spent six weeks at GOSH where he had three operations, 20 plasma exchanges and two blood transfusions.
Even when at home, he had to undergo around 11 hours of dialysis a night, his bedroom converted into a clinic completely with all the equipment and hospital-level hygiene. The family’s pet basset hound Charlie also had to be rehomed amid hygiene concerns.
But Raphael’s only hope of recovery rested with a kidney transplant.
Both his mother and father volunteered as donors – deciding it should be his father who donated the organ.
'We both put ourselves forward, he’s our only child and it’s just the immediate instinct you have.
'You would do anything for that child, we both wanted to do it desperately.
'We decided I would go first – we couldn’t have the operations in the same hospital and we thought it was better if his mother was with him in the hospital.
'You don’t realise it but once you have been accepted and you’re working your way through the process, you see how important that kidney is.
'There’s a lot of emotional and psychological pressure on you, your child is depending on you.
'You watch him, the difficulties at home, and you know the key to a better quality of life lies in you. It was such a relief to actually have the operation.'
Looking forwards: Both Raphael's mother and father stepped forward to donate him a kidney. In the end his father had the operation
The operation on November 15 was followed by an anxious six-week wait to see if it was a success.
And a few months later, the family’s life is starting to get back to normal – Raphael went back to school in January and his father is back at work.
For football-mad Raphael, this year saw him get the chance to be the mascot at Manchester United’s match against Stoke City on January 31.
For his father, the simpler moments are the most rewarding – such as seeing his son go to the toilet and drink freely without any difficulties.
'In life we take it for granted to drink when you are thirsty, we are even encouraged to do so and to go to the toilet when you feel the need to pass urine,' he said.
'However, for someone on a PD dialysis it is very different and often difficult. Their lives are totally controlled by restrictions and allowances.
'Even a treat like an ice cream or the milk on your cereal the fluid is carefully measured and controlled.'
He said Raphael is now facing a healthy future.
'We had a rough year but it’s such a happy ending now,' he said.
The family’s story is being
told in the documentary My Life: Me, My Dad & His Kidney, to be
screened on BBC1 on Wednesday at 4.30pm.