Richmond man Mike Corkill get a kiss from his wife Julie-Ann after hearing that he may not live to see Christmas. Photo: Andrew Board.

Dad loses battle but thanks public

5
1914

Mike Corkill’s fight for a new set of lungs is over.

The father of five, who reached out to our community for help to pay for the life-saving surgery, has been told by doctors that he will be lucky if he makes it to Christmas.

His failing lungs have put too much pressure on his kidneys, causing them to fail as well. The pressure is now on his heart and it’s a matter of when it gives out, not if.

Sitting at home, less than 24 hours after he was told he’d be dead within a month, Mike spoke with Nelson Weekly surrounded by his youngest daughter, distraught wife and a half-decorated Christmas tree.

In the cruellest of endings, Mike was rushed to Nelson Hospital the week he reached his $140,000 target. His passports had arrived, the visas were ordered and the plane tickets were about to be booked.

People from all around New Zealand donated $80,000 to try and get Mike to India where a lung transplant would save his life. A reverse mortgage on his parents’ home netted Mike another $60,000. But he ran out of time.

He needed to have the transplant before his kidneys failed.

He’s not giving up on life, though. Mike says he wants to do as much as he can in the next few weeks. “I’ve shed a lot of tears,” he says. “Last night [Thursday] I bawled my eyes out. But I’m not going to curl up on the couch and die. I don’t want my kids to remember me like that.”

Mike is planning a Christmas lunch “with all the trimmings” within the next week, and will use his “inheritance” from his parents on a couple of new beds for his kids and braces for his teenage daughter.

The $80,000 is in a trust and will be used to help his children pay for education and health needs.

“I want to thank everyone who gave money to us over the past eight months. Every dollar meant a lot and there were a lot of people who didn’t have anything to give but they gave us their support, that meant a lot too.

“I also – and make sure you print this – I want to thank the Nelson Weekly and Waimea Weekly. I wouldn’t have got one dollar if it wasn’t for you guys. You gave me hope and you’ve helped our family.”

During his 14 year battle with a pulmonary arterial hypertension, Mike has had no luck go his way.

When he first started feeling sick the doctors told him it was asthma because there was no record of the hereditary disease in his family. That’s because Mike was adopted and he didn’t have access to the medical records of his birth mother – who he later found out also died from it.

So he battled to live and work with it for 12 years until the doctors found out what it was he had. By then it was too late for him to be put on the waiting list for a lung transplant in New Zealand, the risk of kidney failure was too great. India became his only option.

If he could raise $140,000 he could get treatment, surgery and a year’s worth of care on the sub-continent.

Mike’s class and dignity through the entire process has been a credit to him and his family. He may have lost his battle but his continued desire to live life to the fullest shows the spirit of the man.

In the first article that Nelson Weekly wrote on Mike, in April, he told us that he’d already done his Christmas shopping but he wasn’t sure if he’d live long enough to watch his children open them.

After 14 years of rotten luck, let’s hope he is given that one last thrill.