Behind the podcast: Hear Kimberly talk about her story in “Life Imitates Science,” on our Let’s Talk Hope podcast at letstalkhopepodcast.com or wherever you find your podcasts.
A kidney named Faith inspires even greater faith in the power of organ donation
Kimberly Johnson expected to wait between 8 and 10 years for a kidney transplant because of her rare blood type. She felt like she had beaten the odds when she received one after just more than 2 years on the transplant waiting list.
After Kimberly received her lifesaving transplant, she wrote a letter to her donor’s family. She heard back six months later. What she learned about her donor amazed her.
The donor was a woman who passed away when she was only one year older than Kimberly. She worked in special education like Kimberly, and even had a birthday one day earlier.
Kimberly couldn’t believe how much they shared beyond the kidney she received.
It all began when Kimberly was in her thirties, and medication wasn’t doing enough to control her high blood pressure. After picking her son up from college one day, she became drastically ill and was unable to drive home. She immediately went to the hospital and went on emergency dialysis. High blood pressure had damaged her kidneys, and they were failing.
After that, Kimberly went to dialysis treatments three times each week and stayed for four hours overnight, while working and caring for her disabled son. She felt overwhelmed by everything she had to learn about her health and battled anxiety and depression. It was a difficult time.
One day, Kimberly read a brochure at the dialysis center about the kidney transplant waiting list. She decided to be evaluated for a transplant and joined the list. She prepared herself for the long wait for her new kidney to become available.
While she waited, Kimberly relied heavily on prayer for strength and guidance. She credits her faith in God for carrying her through six years of dialysis and for the encouragement to talk to people about her need for an organ donor. Family members and friends offered to donate, but none of them were able to give a kidney to Kimberly.
“I was at a women’s retreat and I heard the speaker say that if you want something, you have to say it out loud. I was just telling everybody I needed a kidney that Sunday,” Kimberly said.
Two weeks later, her doctor called. Before she could even pull off the road, he told her there was a kidney for her and she should come to the hospital within four hours.
“I was screaming. I did a U-turn so fast! I went home, grabbed my bag and was on my way to the hospital. I just kept telling my doctor, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
After the surgery, Kimberly was in disbelief and overcome with gratitude. She was so exhilarated that she felt like she could float on air.
“I knew that while I was over here trying to figure it out, God had worked it out.”
“I named my kidney Faith because it was the first time in my life where I really had to depend on my faith, where I really had to dig deep and… trust God.”
Since then, she feels compelled to give back to others in appreciation for her lifesaving gift. By sharing her own experience, Kimberly educates and supports people on dialysis through social media and talks to people in her community. She has become a strong advocate for organ and tissue donation with the National Kidney Foundation.
She tells others who are on dialysis or awaiting a transplant: “Your life matters. Who you are matters and whatever spiritual belief you believe in, lean on it like never before.”
Listen to Kimberly’s story on our Let’s Talk Hope podcast at letstalkhopepodcast.com, or wherever you find podcasts.
Register your decision today to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. Talk with your family and friends about your decision to donate life.