For the second time in as many years, a Liberty Twp. man has received the gift of life — an organ transplant.
Doug Johnson, who received a liver transplant two years ago at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, recently received a kidney from his daughter, Rachelle Soliday, 42. He said he considers it a great belated Father’s Day present.
Johnson, 66, developed problems with his kidneys due to side effects reacting from the anti-rejection medications he has to take for the liver that he received late August 2014. Before he received a second opportunity to receive a liver transplant, Johnson, who was also battling diabetes, had been on the transplant candidate waiting list for five years.
He said about three months after his liver transplant, symptoms started to develop with his kidneys being unable to flush out the toxins in his body. In March 2015, he was back at UC Medical Center for an emergency dialysis where doctors determined it was the result of one of his anti-rejection medications.
His doctors told him his kidneys were working at 20 percent capacity and were not going to heal. After prescribing a different anti-rejection medication to replace the other drug creating the bad reaction, doctors also told him if he did not get a new kidney within a year, he’d most likely be on dialysis for the rest of his life.
Sandy Johnson, Doug’s wife, said they were going back and forth to the doctor’s office for check-ups as well as to get injections to stave off anemia as the kidneys also affect how the blood marrow makes red blood cells.
“They had to build that up before he could get a transplant,” she said. “In addition, he had qualify for a transplant and go through all of the (pre-transplant testing and) screening again.”
As soon as she heard about that, Rachelle Soliday told her parents that she’d give up one of her kidneys to help her father. “I knew it from day one that I was going to be the chosen one,” she said.
Soliday had been on the state’s organ donor registry for a number of years.
Last September, she went to a class at the UC Medical Center’s Transplant Clinic on becoming a living donor. Soliday said she had to go through a number of tests, screenings and scans in different stages to make sure she was a good match and could be a living donor to help her father. She passed all of the testing and screening and was able to proceed.
In addition to their middle child Rachelle, Doug and Sandy have two other children who were not healthy enough to be a live donor.
“Now we know how important it is for living donors to step up because it could take three to five years waiting for a cadaver donation,” said Sandy Johnson. “It’s been a rough three years.”
When it came time for the surgery on June 27, Rachelle was taken in to the operating room first, said Sandy Johnson.
“At the time I was going into surgery, he said it wasn’t too late to back out,” said Rachelle Johnson.
After one of Soliday’s kidneys was removed, Sandy Johnson said surgeons prepped it before it was be transplanted into her husband.
However, his two kidneys were not removed as surgeons attached his daughter’s kidney in the right lower quadrant of his abdomen and attached it to his internal iliac and bladder. In essence, he now has three kidneys inside his body.
Sandy Johnson said her husband has recovered well since the surgery nearly three weeks ago as evidenced by the post-operative lab work. Rachelle recovered for the first 10 days at her parents home who live across the street from her. Hospital staff also presented a Donate Life flag to Rachelle for her gift of life, according to her father.
“Words can’t hardly explain what I’m feeling,” Doug Johnson said. “It’s been wonderful. I was blessed.”
Rachelle Soliday said it was true when medical personnel told her the post-surgery recovery would be harder for her as a living donor but said she was “blessed” to be able to help her father.
“I felt that I was able to give life,” she said. “It was better than hitting the lottery.”
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