Son donating kidney to save father’s life

Roosevelt County Sheriff Reserve Deputy J.P. Nichols volunteers his time to serve the community with the sheriff’s office. On Oct. 7 he’s going to give a piece of himself to save his father’s life.

Nichols said he will be donating one of his kidneys to his father, John, in a transplant that will take close to 20 hours for surgeons to complete at University Medical Center in Lubbock.

Nichols said his father hurt his back many years ago while working in an oil field. Since then he has undergone six surgeries to repair nerve damage and one procedure that included putting a cage around his spinal cord to keep it straight. The infection that followed almost took his father’s life.

“The doctors came to us at that point, and gave us a 5 percent chance he’d actually survive the surgery to replace the cage and clean out the infection,” Nichols said.

Nichols said his father survived the surgery, but the options the doctor gave him afterwards were less than desirable.

“They said what’s left of the pseudomonas infection is going to kill him in the next six months, or they can put him on strong antibiotics which will kill his kidneys,” Nichols said.

According to Dr. Kenneth Todar of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the main treatment for Nichols’ infection not only impairs kidney function, but can also cause the patient to go deaf.

So without his father’s knowledge, Nichols signed papers to get tested to find out if his blood type matched his father’s so he could donate his kidney.

“My first reaction was to say ‘no,’” the elder Nichols said. “I didn’t want him to give up his kidney. But it’s great, I’m really proud of him.”

Nichols said he looks forward to seeing his 13- and 14-year-old grandsons graduate high school.

A fundraiser has been planned to help pay for the family’s medical bills and living expenses while he recovers from surgery. Nichols said his father’s medical bills are covered by workers compensation since the transplant is a result of a work-related injury.

Nichols said on Saturday at Portales City Park there will be a motorcycle show, at least four live bands, food vendors, and a few merchandise vendors who will donate a portion of their proceeds to Nichols. Raffle tickets will be sold to win prizes donated by 100 area businesses, Nichols said.

Nichols hopes to raise $10,000 and anyone wishing to donate to the Nichols transplant fund can go to Wells Fargo and do so, he said