Mine is yours: Tweed dad James Shugg will give his son Nicholas one of his kidneys so he can avoid dialysis and lead a normal life.
Mine is yours: Tweed dad James Shugg will give his son Nicholas one of his kidneys so he can avoid dialysis and lead a normal life. Karen Harper

Father donates kidney to son

THEY say blood is thicker than water, but for one Tweed father and son, the connection will soon run even deeper.

Young Nicholas Shugg, 11, was born with small and misshapen kidneys, a problem discovered when he was seven months old and not thriving when introduced to solid foods.

For parents James Shugg and Melissa Groom, their son’s life since that point has been a step-by-step process.

He has grown into a lively and outwardly healthy boy despite health complications including reduced energy levels, intolerance to many foods and susceptibility to sickness.

But the couple, now divorced, were recently advised Nicholas would need a life-saving operation to avoid dialysis.

So a decision that they knew was coming had to be made and Mr Shugg, now approaching his 40th birthday, will give Nicholas one of his kidneys in August.

“It is a case of just follow the test results as you go, and it is always in the back of your mind that either myself or Melissa may have to give him one of our kidneys in the future,” Mr Shugg, an estate agent at DJ Stringer Coolangatta, said.

“We’re at that difficult point where Nicholas will have to start dialysis soon.”

The pair have three children aged between eight and 11 years old, and the decision was made that Mr Shugg would donate his kidney.

“Everyone always said, ‘of course I would do it, of course I would give a kidney to my son if he needed it’,” Mr Shugg said.

But he admitted it wasn’t until he learnt more about the procedure at an organ transplant conference earlier this year that he felt fully at ease with the operation. He said most people go through life using only 20 per cent of their kidney’s capacity, and many people live life to the full with only one kidney.

Mr Shugg said his son would “most definitely” see a much-improved quality of life. He will have much more energy and will be saved from dialysis.

“What I want is to secure him the opportunity to have a good crack at life. I want to give him the best chance to fulfil his own dreams,” Mr Shugg said.

He said he was lucky he was healthy enough to help his son, and knew he would have to watch his own health more in the future.

“I am lucky enough to give him a way of living that won’t be too bad.

“I know I am committing to something where I will have to look after myself a bit better; in that respect, my life will change.”

The kidney is expected to last for 20 years or more.

Mrs Groom said she was glad her ex-husband was compatible with Nicholas.

“As a parent, you want to do what you can to help,” Mrs Groom said.

“We are very grateful for modern technology which has given our son a second chance in life and hope this story will encourage others to be organ donors.”


Australia has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world.

One organ and tissue donor can save the lives of up to 10 people.

In May this year, 99 people had their saved through organ donation.

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