Selfless act - a sign of brotherly love

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), CPOIS Damian Pawlenko (photographer)

Topic(s): Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Joseph French with his older brother Tom at Fleet Base West, Western Australia. (photo: CPOIS Damian Pawlenko)
Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Joseph French with his older brother Tom at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

For a long time, Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Joseph French and knew that his brother Thomas would one day require a kidney transplant, he just didn’t know when that day would come.

The time came in 2018 when Able Seaman French was serving in HMAS Ballarat.

“Tom had a degenerative disorder that gradually reduced the functioning of his kidneys so we knew he’d eventually require a transplant,” Able Seaman French said.

“I was serving in HMAS Ballarat as part of Operation MANITOU when I found out the time was approaching so I started exploring my options to donate one of my kidneys.

“With the assistance of Ballarat’s Medical Officer Lieutenant Commander Miranda Norquay, and Lieutenant Ashley Wallin from HMAS Stirling, I researched all relevant Defence medical policies and publications to find out if I was eligible to donate and still be able to continue my Navy career after surgery.”

Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Joseph French with his older brother Tom at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

Able Seaman Communications Information Systems Joseph French with his older brother Tom at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

Once he found out that he was a compatible match, and the procedure wouldn’t impact his future career, Able Seaman French began the process of donating a kidney to his brother.

Now, with the three-month milestone approaching, Thomas said he’s doing well and is expecting a positive report from his doctor when he goes for his next check-up.

“Everything’s going really well,” he said.

“I was lucky the condition got picked up early as my chances of recovery after a donation were as high as they could be.”

Despite the surgery being postponed due to COVID-19 earlier this year, the operation went ahead in May, and Thomas said he was forever in his brother’s debt for his selfless act of brotherly love.

“I can’t thank Joe enough and I’ll definitely owe him a lot of good Christmas and birthday presents for the rest of his life,” Thomas said.

Able Seaman French is currently posted to Naval Communication Station Perth at HMAS Stirling.