Bill Meyers, right, and his son, William "J.R." Meyers Jr., arrived at Honolulu Airport from Maui yesterday. Meyers will receive a kidney transplanted from his son.

Maui man
gets gift of life
from his son

Soldier J.R. Myers leaves duty
in Iraq to donate his kidney

Spc. 4 William "J.R." Myers Jr. left his Arizona Army National Guard unit in Iraq to give his dad a belated Father's Day present: a healthy kidney.

"It's not often your son gives you the gift of life," said Kahului resident Bill Myers, 58.

J.R. Myers, a turret gunner with the 189th Command Support Battalion, did not want his dad to suffer any longer from end-stage renal disease.

"I wasn't going to wait for someone else to come along," he said. As it turned out, he was a match.

"I wanted him to be there to watch his grandson grow up and the rest of his sons grow up," said the 22-year-old Myers, whose 4-month-old son, Jordan, saw his grandfather for the first time.

J.R. and Bill Myers arrived in Honolulu from Maui last night to prepare for the transplant operation Friday at St. Francis Medical Center.

J.R. found it hard to leave his fellow soldiers, who are still in Baghdad, Iraq, May 16, after more than two months of fighting and peacekeeping duties, but he believed family was more important.

The younger Myers said after the surgery, he will be unable to be deployed in hostile situations or go overseas to fight in a war, but will still be able to perform in state missions in case of national disasters.

Bill Myers initially was reluctant to accept such a gift from his eldest son.

Bill Myers said: "He's got a full life ahead. He's got a wife and kids.

"He said: 'You're my dad. I love you. I want to take care of you.' He said, 'If I'm a match, you can't tell me what to do; I'm going to give.'"

Bill Myers reconsidered as his health began to deteriorate and his doctor assured him many donors get along fine with just one kidney.

Bill Myers, a Wackenhut Security branch manager and retired Maui police captain, had kept silent for months about suffering from end-stage renal, the disease caused by untreated hypertension.

Heavy nosebleeds while umpiring the state high school baseball championships in May last year tipped him off that something was wrong.

But in January, Myers' health started to go downhill, so he first told his 16-year-old son, Wade, who lives at home.

Wade called his older brother, J.R., with the news in January before he was deployed. J.R., a deputy sheriff in Arizona, phoned his father.

"He said, 'I'll give you mine,'" Bill Myers said. "He was very adamant about it."

When others heard, several friends and family came forward to donate, but Bill Myers' siblings were too old to be considered donors.

Bill Myers hopes to return to an active life once again as a baseball umpire.

Bill Myers had the options of submitting to two types of dialysis, a three-day-a-week, four-hour procedure or the transplant, according to St. Francis transplant coordinator Cathy Bailey.


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