True test after donating kidney

James Shugg has received his bronze medallion since donating a kidney.
James Shugg has received his bronze medallion since donating a kidney. Scott Powick

JAMES Shugg could barely walk three weeks before his bronze medallion fitness test.

He had given a kidney to his son Nicholas only six weeks earlier and the best he could do was break into a quick shuffle.

Movement on land was a bit of a problem but through work in the pool the 40-year-old’s fitness rapidly improved and when it came to the examination he blitzed it with minutes to spare.

For the proud new Cudgen Surf Life Saving Club patrol member his decision to take the test was more for his mental rather than physical recuperation.

Mr Shugg, a father of three, has described gifting a kidney to Nicholas, who was born with inadequate kidneys, as a euphoric experience and the greatest achievement of his life.

But in the intensive lead-up to the operation he learned about the high incidence of post-operation depression among donors.

“They talk about the low point people reach a few weeks after the operation is done,” Mr Shugg said. “You go through this euphoric high but then hit this devastating low.

“I needed a challenge, something to keep my mind off it. I thought (life saving) would be a bit of fun and I could be involved with kids.”

Mr Shugg’s first patrol on January 12 finished without any drama and he is looking forward to his next one, and maybe even competing in the future.

“There was big surf and there was about 10 of us down there so I just got out there and had fun.”

He is loving being an active member of the club after being involved socially in the past.

“I would encourage anyone to do it,” he said.

About four months on from the surgery, which took place the day after Father’s Day, Mr Shugg said Nicholas had gained weight, had more energy and was learning how to surf.

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