Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who was briefly hospitalized after feeling light-headed during a press conference Friday morning, will need a kidney transplant, he said at a news conference later that evening.
During the followup conference, Johnson was visibly in a better spirits than earlier in the day when he appeared dazed and disoriented before being taken to Christ Hospital. He joked about being excited about having bought new flat screen televisions that were being mounted at his home. But he also said he's been battling kidney disease for 32 years.
“This morning I took blood pressure medication on an empty stomach, which is something that you shouldn’t do, especially before doing a press conference and standing next to the mayor while you’re doing it—but I did it,” he said.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said earlier that day Johnson’s medication problem was unrelated to his “longstanding kidney issue.”
“I also wanted to take this opportunity to give you the facts on what’s been floating around today regarding my personal health,” Johnson said, before confirming that he is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.
Johnson said the transplant has not yet been scheduled and the search for a matching donor continues.
“Once the donor is found and the operation takes place, I should be back to work in somewhere between three to five weeks,” he said.
He will continue to work until the operation is to take place at Rush Medical Center, he said.
“I’d like to thank the doctors at Rush Medical Center who will be performing the surgery,” Johnson said. “Because I know when that day comes, they’re gonna do a fantastic job and get me back to work quickly.”
Sources told NBC 5 City Hall was made aware of Johnson's medical condition before he was asked to apply for the top cop position, which he did not ultimately end up applying for, adding this is not an "overnight crisis." Johnson reitirated this at Friday's press conference.
An ambulance was called Friday morning when the 56-year-old appeared light-headed during a press conference announcing new strategic centers for the Chicago Police Department.
Guglielmi said Johnson felt light-headed but "did not lose consciousness."
"He was coherent and will go to an area hospital for examination," Guglielmi tweeted.
He later said Johnson was "doing fine and is in good spirits joking with hospital staff."
The press conference began around 10:45 a.m. and near the end of the event, while Mayor Rahm Emanuel was answering a question, Johnson appeared to sway and stagger. Emanuel stopped and asked him, "Are you ok?" before telling Johnson, who appears dazed, to have a seat.
Unsteady, Johnson is escorted from the stand and a crowd surrounds him while someone requests an ambulance.
Chicago Police News Affairs said Jonhson refused ambulance transport, walked out of the building on his own and left in an SUV. The Chicago Fire Department said his vitals "were found to be good" and he "left the facility in his own car."