James Fortune ~ Woman Alive With Jim's Kidney

Flint Michigan 18 year old woman (now 50) healthy with Vietnam veteran's kidneySometimes a story that one tells becomes part of you, especially a true one like this soldier. James (Jim) Fortune was such a man. He was just under a year older than me, from Flint, Michigan. I lived about 50 miles from him north of Detroit. By now you have probably guessed that Jim passed away. He did in June 1972. But the story doesn't end with the end of his physical life.

During the summer I went to Flint, Michigan to research Jim's life, and found out that he has a sister Christine, a brother Larry and his mom is alive. They all miss him dearly. Christine was very surprised when I mentioned Jim, and almost the first words she said, "I still miss him!"

Jim Fortune 1968 Yearbook, Montrose, MichiganJim came from Whittemore, Michigan, a Northern Michigan town. His family moved to Montrose, Michigan in 1965, near the General Motors city of Flint.
I am saddened to talk about Jim's death, but at the same time I want to tell you about the life Jim Fortune SP/4 helped keep alive. Jim had been out of the army since Oct. 1971. He moved back to the Flint, Michigan area and was trying to adjust to civilian life. But he had insurmountable problems. He turned to increased substance use, he just couldn't get over what he had gone through. He cried, and said, "nobody will know the hell I have been through, know one will ever know".

Jim Fortune SketchJim died June 1972. I am not sure of the details with their church, but they decided to donate Jim's kidneys. It just happened back in these early days of organ transplants, that a 18 year old woman was in need of a kidney.

Like other 18-year-olds, Mary Ann Foco was listening to Elton John and Al Green and putting her hopes in a college degree.

But her seemingly healthy body was quietly failing her. Her sister, Bonnie, a nurse, was picked to break the news: The teen's kidneys were kaput.

The paper indicated that a 20 year old Flint man was the donor. It did not list Jim's name.

Jim Fortune ~ First in Cambodia patch"I wrote a long letter to his mother, telling (her that) her son lived on in me," McCormick said. "I thank God every day that I got it."

32 years later and counting, the article shows Mary, the 18 year old, who in 2004 was 51 years old, married with a 17 year old son.

Christine has told me that Mary is still alive and is now 62 years old. Jim's life, with the kidney that Mary received is surely a tribute to a good man, a man that I cry when I think he could be chatting with his children, and grand-children, having Skype chats with them, and otherwise enjoying his golden years.

Jim had PTSD. He as well as veterans of WWII, Korea and today's wars are having a terrible time getting over their service jobs.

Christine brother of Jim Fortune ~ 17 October 2015 - Davison, Michigan

A special thank you to Christine, Jim Fortune's sister. She met us in Lapeer, Michigan, October 2015 and shared many more pictures, letters and documents that I have busily added to my Vietnam War 'Letters From a Soldier' section. Also, thank you for the support of Jim & Christine's brother Larry and their mom. I am so happy that you like what I have done and how I have portrayed Jim. In Christine's words, "You would have liked him, he was a very personable and kind person. Thanks again Bob."

Yes, I would have loved to have met Jim. I am so happy to have met you, along with my wife. I hope to meet Jim's brother Larry too.

A special thank you also to Chris (not to be confused with Jim's sister Christine) who shared her letters from Jim. And Chris asked me, just last week that she had more letters from another soldier who was in Vietnam, that she wrote to and if I was interested. Well, you probably know my answer to her question. She will be here two days from when I first post this page.

One more footnote, I started this site about WWII soldier letters. My second cousin Leonard, who was of the 531st Engineer's Brigade, and was part of the second wave on Omaha Beach (please listen to the audio if you haven't) described in detail his experiences, quite eye-opening. His daughter Marilyn just sent me original photos, letters and documents sent to her mom & her during his service. I will be updating these, God willing.

Jim Fortune ~ Remembering

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