“Because Harrison was born to people of privilege, in this country, at this time in history he is surrounded with social scaffolding built to give him every chance of not only surviving, but thriving.”
On December 4, my son Harrison and I will head into hospital and he’ll receive my kidney in a transplant operation. It’ll be my first major operation and Harrison’s 13th.
There is nothing that has made me more aware of my own privilege than the journey to this big moment in Harrison’s life.
When my wife Rachel and I went to our first pregnancy ultra sound, we discovered our son had a “lower mesodermal defect” that meant all of the amniotic fluid that should have been filling Rachel’s womb was instead trapped inside his bladder, damaging the development of muscles, organs and various body parts. Doctors told us there was no hope of survival, but, after some encouragement, suggested a procedure that would, in their words, increase his chance of life from 0% to 1%.
We determined that we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives wondering “what if?” and went ahead with the surgery.
The months between that day and the birth of our son were a roller-coaster of emotion. Terminating the pregnancy was suggested repeatedly, and once the possibility of making that choice had passed, were told to “prepare for a birth and then a funeral.” Scans showed that Harrison’s lungs were tiny and plastinated, that his kidneys were almost entirely absent and a range of other defects.
When Harrison was born – breech, not breathing and with other physical deformities not revealed by ultra sound – he was surrounded by more doctors and nurses than I can remember. A tube was quickly pushed down his throat and, astoundingly, his tiny lungs inflated. Harrison was alive – and whisked off for emergency surgery to see if it was possible to keep him that way.