Hero doctor who halted vacation to help 12 Thai boys in cave rescue learns his father has died

The brave doctor who halted his vacation to rush to assist with the cave rescue of twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach has learned of tragic news — his father has died.

Heroic Australian doctor Richard Harris has “endured a tumultuous week of highs and lows,” according to a colleague.

Shortly after he was instrumental in treating and helping the 12 trapped young Thai boys he learned his father James Harris, a renowned former vascular surgeon, had passed away a short time after the successful rescue operation.

The Australian

The world has watched with baited breath after these boys and their coach became trapped in the Tham Luang Nan Non cave in northern Thailand. Thai authorities worked hard to keep them healthy and fed while planning a dangerous rescue operation —  so dangerous that one Thai diver Suman Gunan lost his life.

On hearing the news of the trapped boys the hero doctor and experienced cave diver who happened to be on vacation in Thailand, dropped everything and joined the Thai medical team (pictured below) to help the Wild Boars soccer team. He gave them a sedative to help alleviate any panic before divers led them to safety.

MedSTAR Director of Clinical Services Dr. Andrew Pearce said, according to The Daily Telegraph, “We are delighted that Harry (Dr Harris) and the boys are safe and that he was able to play such a remarkable role in the Australian response. Harry is a quiet and kind man who did not think twice about offering his support on this mission.”

Shortly after the operation father-of-three Dr. Harris learned of the tragic news that his father had passed away.

“I have spoken with Harry. This is clearly a time of grief for the Harris family, magnified by the physical and emotional demands of being part of this week’s highly complex and ultimately successful rescue operation,” Dr. Pearce said.

“He will be coming home soon and taking some well-earned time off to be with his family. He has asked that the family’s privacy is respected at this time.”

Peter Harbison, James Harris’ best friend for 80 years and best man at his wedding, said James hadn’t been in the best of health with heart issues, but was aware of his son being in Thailand helping the rescue of the soccer team.

“Our condolences to Adelaide anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris and his family on the passing of his father, at a time when the world celebrates good news for families of 12 young boys in Thailand,” a statement read.

Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

What a bittersweet week this hero has endured; our hearts go out to Dr. Richard Harris and his family.