CUMMING, Ga. -- At a time of year known for celebrating fathers, one metro Atlanta dad is hoping to give the most important of presents to his son.
"This piece is so small compared to what he has to go through every day," says Seth Harding of Cumming. "I know it's nothing compared to what he's always known."
Ephraim Harding is 4 years old and has had major kidney issues since he was in his mother's belly. His kidneys failed to properly develop, and parents Seth and Rebecca were told he would not survive past 20 weeks of his mother's pregnancy.
Ephraim made it to 20 weeks, then 30, then through a difficult birth, which doctors warned he might not survive.
Recalls his dad, "The doctor just stopped me [before my wife went into the delivery room] and told me, 'Before you go in here, just understand ... Don't expect him to come out of here alive.'"
"I was begging God," Seth Harding says, "just like, 'Please don't take him yet. I haven't had a chance to hold him, haven't had a chance to tell him a story. Just please don't take him yet.'"
Today Ephraim wears a port and takes a daily concoction of pills. He goes through dialysis three times a week of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. He has learned an inordinate amount about his condition.
Last month he learned his kidneys had finally failed. He will need a new kidney -- and soon.
That is where his dad comes in.
Seth signed up as soon as he could to get tested to donate a kidney to his son. He went through, as he calls it, "a battery of tests" last week at Emory University Hospital.
"I'm really nervous that I won't be able to give," Seth said, "and I'm waiting on a phone call right now that should tell me just the opposite."
Seth will find out Wednesday if he has passed all the necessary tests. In the meantime, he simply appreciates the opportunity to be with his child.
"He's my son," Seth said. "I wouldn't do anything different. We already gave him life just with birth, and now helping him stay alive, it's the only thing I would do."
Added the proud father, "As far as I'm concerned, he could have both of them."
For more information about Ephraim, you can follow him on his page with COTA (the Children's Organ Transplant Association). The group partners with the Harding family to help raise funds for children in need of a transplant.
To learn more about organ donation -- and to sign up to become an organ donor in the state of Georgia -- check out the Donate Life Georgia web site.
For more stories by Matt Pearl, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook, or read his Telling The Story blog.