In many ways, Nolan King, 12, of Joliet is like other kids his age.
He likes studying history – “Roman times” is his favorite period – and playing a variety of video games.
Unlike most kids his age, however, Nolan also is in kidney failure, and his mother, Sandy King of Joliet, will donate one of her kidneys to him Oct. 16.
Because Sandy King will be out of work without pay for two months after the transplant, her husband, Mike King, Nolan’s father, started a GoFundMe page to cushion the lost income, Sandy King said.
“The medical bills have been piling up since birth,” Sandy King said.
Nolan said he is nervous about the upcoming surgery, which is understandable, Sandy King said. He is an active child, but as he nears adolescence, his kidneys will struggle to keep up.
I want people to know he’s brave, very loving and caring, and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.”— Sandy King of Joliet about her son, Nolan King
“Through the years, his [kidney function] numbers slowly went down, and his function decreased,” Sandy King said. “And now he’s hitting puberty, and things are progressing faster. He’s at about 23% kidney function right now. They don’t want him on dialysis.”
Sandy King said Nolan will turn 13 shortly before the surgery.
“You can’t tell by looking at him that he’s sick,” Sandy King said. “He just wants to be treated like everyone else.”
In September 2022, another Will County mother donated a kidney to her son. Jamie O’Connor, then 58, of Manhattan gave her son Austin O’Connell, then 30, of Joliet a second chance at a healthy life by donating one of her kidneys to him.
The National Kidney Foundation said the chances of rejection are lower when living donor transplants are done between family members who are genetically similar.
Before he was born, a routine ultrasound showed Nolan had posterior urethral valves, which prevented his kidneys from developing. He was only 24 hours old when he had surgery to remove the valves and was then diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.
Nolan spent his first month at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where he will have the transplant. Sandy King will have her surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, also in Chicago, she said.
Sandy King and her family formed Team Nolan in 2015 and walked 3 miles in Chicago as part of the National Kidney Foundation’s Walk for Kidneys. Nolan was 4 at the time. The family participated in the walk only once.
“We had four children – two are out of the house now – and we just had a lot on our plates,” Sandy King said.
Nolan is the youngest.
“I want people to know he’s brave, very loving and caring, and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need,” Sandy King said. “He’s very respectful and just an all-around great kid.”
To donate to the “Kidney for Nolan” GoFundMe page, visit gofundme.com/f/kidney4Nolan.