Former Savannah State football player Damon Johnson is in need of a kidney. The Atlanta native has been on the kidney transplant list for about two years. He says he first learned of his kidney issues 13 years ago. “I first discovered I had kidney issues in 2004, prior to my daughter (Sydney) being born. It was discovered that I had kidney cancer and I had the cancerous tumor removed from my left kidney.”
Before this, Johnson, who turned 50 in late June, was a relatively healthy man.
After graduating from Therrell High School, he attended Western Kentucky on a football scholarship. He later transferred to Savannah State where he finished up his playing career. In 1988, he made the all conference team and led the Tigers in tackles (107) and sacks (9). His 107 tackles was a single season record at the time but it has since been broken. During his playing days on the defensive line, Johnson was listed at 6-foot-5 and nearly 300-pounds.
He earned a business degree from SSU in 1991 and has been a valuable employee to many companies ranging from Bank of America, Daimler Chrysler, Fulton County and SSU.
For the past ten years he has been a Public Outreach Specialist with DeKalb County.
Because of his illness, Johnson has to go to dialysis three times a week. He says that his kidneys are in the renal failure stage but that has not slow him down. “I work full time and have not missed a day if work unless I was hospitalized for specific analysis or issues,” he adds.
Many people think you need money to be on the kidney transplant list but Johnson says that is not true. “There is no money required to be on the list. If you don’t have a living donor there is a 6-8 year waiting period. Thus dialysis is needed to keep me alive.”
While at Savannah State, Johnson became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He is also an accomplished poetry writer who has published several books. His poems are about love, life, and all of the passion in between. He credits his love of words and writing to the first love of his life, his mother, Mary Jo Johnson.
In spite of his trials and tribulations, Johnson says that his family has been his rock.
“My support system consists of mainly my family. I’m a very private person and tend to be a little nonchalant about the severity of my illness. Being a strong person all my life, this illness has been very humbling and a bit scary. Yet, God has been good. I know that all of my friends, coaches and fraternity brothers are praying for me. I have just recently decided to actively seek a living donor and have been getting some positive responses. Hopefully a kidney is in my immediate future.”
If you would like more information or are interested in being a donor you can contact Johnson’s his living donor coordinator Barbara O’Neal, RN at 404-605-4128.