Donor heart was a perfect match - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Donor heart was a perfect match

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - People who pulled together to raise money for an Albany man who needed a lifesaving heart transplant welcomed him home on Friday.

Rod Johnson received that transplant last month after a long wait.

"I got energy, I can walk, I can breathe I can sing I can talk," said Throne 'Rod' Johnson, Transplant patient.

Rod can smile and laugh with family and friends but it wasn't always like this.

"He wanted to work he didn't want disability, that's when he had his stroke three months after he's been on this job," said Nelson Johnson, Rod's Father.

Johnson suffered from a stroke, and there was more bad news.

"I went to a doctor's appointment he said I don't think you'll make it back home," said Rod Johnson.

He couldn't make it because his heart was weak.

"I had no idea how to start a fundraiser," said Nelson Johnson

Rod's father needed to raise money to pay for medical expenses.

John White helped to put together a fundraising committee.

"We were able to gather people together who were quite responsive," said White.

People gave throughout the city, raising money to buy medicine he needed to stay alive.

"He got some of my co-workers and some of my wife's co-workers on the program," said Nelson Johnson.

As hard as they were working to raise money the search for a heart donor was also a challenge.

Rod's blood type was O-positive, but they found a perfect match.

"Perfect match, because I can give my heart to anyone but by me being O-Positive that's the only thing I could accept," said Rod Johnson

"It was just glory hallelujah, thank you thank you," said Nelson Johnson.

A month later his new heart is beating just fine.

"I took my last biopsy yesterday and they tested my heart its perfect," said Rod Johnson.

"We're going to have to go back and forth for a little while, every two weeks for a few months," said Nelson Johnson.

And as long as his heart beats, he'll have to take anti-rejection medicine.

"We'll still have to raise funds to help them out, great insurance, but it doesn't pay everything," said White.

To everyone who donated financially and the family of the donor who gave him a new lease on life, Rod is thankful.

"Thank you, thank you, God bless you and I love all of you all," said Rod

The Rod Johnson Heart Transplant Fund raised about $20,000 to help with medical expenses; the money was matched by the Georgia Transplant fund.

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