Man’s search for kidney leads family to donor

(WSVN) - He needed a find a kidney donor to save his life. His family had an idea: let his 4-year-old daughter ask for him. Earlier this year they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to air the child’s plea. Was she successful? Let’s find out.

It might be hard to find a happier group of people this time of year than the ones surrounding Delbon Johnson.

Delbon Johnson: “We’re doing awesome.”

We met Delbon back in April, after his wife Kameisha sent us a video.

Madison Johnson (in video): “Hi! My name is Madison, and I’m 4 years old.”

Madison is Delbon’s daughter, and she had a plea for her father.

Madison Johnson (in video): “I need your help. My daddy needs a kidney.”

Five years ago, Delbon’s kidneys started failing. The three trips a week for kidney dialysis kept him alive while he hoped for a kidney donor.

Delbon Johnson: “Sometimes, it just causes me to want to lose hope.”

As Delbon’s health deteriorated, the family thought a plea from the adorable Madison on TV might catch the eye of someone.

It did.

Kameisha Johnson: “With the number that Madison told everybody, ‘My daddy needs a kidney,’ he contacted us through that number.”

But the process to make sure the donor was a perfect match took months, leaving Delbon to go back for more dialysis — dialysis some patients can’t take anymore.

Delbon Johnson: “We had three folks at our clinic who gave up. They got tired of it. They said, ‘I’m done. I can’t do this no more.'”

They died, but Delbon couldn’t give up. He had to stay alive for Madison and Kameisha.

Then they got the word. The donor was ready for the operation. The transplant was on.

Delbon Johnson: “Best phone call ever. We were like, flipping around the place and jumping and just rejoicing.”

Madison Johnson (in video): “Daddy, you’re getting a new kidney tomorrow. How do you feel?

Delbon Johnson (in video): “I feel great.”

On the day of the operation, they finally got to met David, the man who was giving Delbon one of his kidneys.

Delbon Johnson: “He said, “You don’t owe me anything, you don’t have to give me anything.’ I said, ‘Thank you, thank you, Lord, for sending such a person like this to me.'”

Kameisha Johnson: “For me, I cried, so… I said I cried.”

After the operation, Kameisha came into the room where Delbon was still under sedation. The doctor told her how to tell if the new kidney was working.

Kameisha Johnson: “You could see the urine that he was making. That’s immediately how you knew the kidney was working. Because he couldn’t produce urine before.”

The kidney is working perfectly. Twelve weeks later, Delbon says, the change has been remarkable.

Delbon Johnson: “I feel like my old self back. My life has come back.”

Delbon feels alive again. Kameisha sees it.

Kameisha Johnson: “Sometimes I see him running up the stairs. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. You couldn’t do that before.’ So just, like, simple stuff like that.”

David, who didn’t want any publicity, happened to see this little girl on TV asking for a kidney for her daddy. The odds of him seeing her at that moment are amazing.

Pearline Smith, Delbon’s mother: “We feel so lucky, and I don’t even know if lucky is the word. I would say blessed.”

Delbon is so thankful he can now live a wonderful life, but he is not forgetting the many people who still needs a kidney like he did.

Delbon Johnson: “I always used to ask the question, ‘Why did God give us two kidneys?’ Because we only need one to function, and then, when I really thought about it, I am like, ‘God really gave us two kidneys to give another person, one that needs a kidney.'”

On this week of Thanksgiving, a lot of people have a lot of be thankful for — none more than Delbon.

Delbon Johnson: “It’s truly a gift of life.”

Madison Johnson (in video): “Thank you so much, David, for getting my daddy a kidney.”

Now that is certainly something to give thanks about. Delbon said, in the 12 weeks since the transplant, he has gained 15 pounds as his body recovers. Maybe he can add a few more with the Thanksgiving meal.

Ready to go cold turkey on a problem you have? Want someone to knock the stuffing out of it? Contact us, and let us carve out a solution.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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