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Chicago's Top Cop Begins Surgery for Kidney Transplant

Supt. Eddie Johnson was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday for a kidney transplant, marking the start of a weeks-long process the city's top cop has been waiting some time for.

It's a date that Johnson has been preparing for for months - and a procedure that will save his life. 

His very private health battle quickly became public in January when he almost fainted at a news conference. That became a moment of truth, he said, and a chance to lift a weight off his shoulders.

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"When I got light-headed, that was a reaction to blood sugar medication," Johnson told NBC 5 in an exclusive interview, "but I have to be honest and tell you this. When the mayor and I talked about me possibly becoming superintendent, one of the first things I told him was about this condition. So after I took the position, I have to be honest and say it was weighing on me, because I knew that the public deserved to know about it and I was trying to figure out the right way and the right moment to tell them and God said, 'This is the time.'"

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For more than 30 years Johnson has been living with glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. Though his family knew of his condition, they had no idea how serious it was.

"They knew about it, but they didn't know it was getting down to that crunch time until you all did," Johnson said.

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When asked if he "got in trouble" with his family for that, he said, "a little bit, but as a father you just don't want your kids and your family period to worry about you." 

It turns out his 25-year-old son Daniel is a perfect donor match. 

"Doing this is my way of, you know, showing him that I love him," Daniel Johnson said. "In order to love like God loves us. He made sacrifices. And that's something I thought about a lot while I was making this decision. I can sacrifice something in order to show my dad that I love him." 

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"He turned out to be a perfect match," Johnson said. "That's my son, but you really don't have the words to express the gratitude. Because he doesn't have to do it. This is something he decided to do on his own."  [[441547413, C]]

The two have bonded even further during their journey to this moment, particularly at the gym. They pushed each other, shedding a combined 70 pounds to get ready for the surgery. 

"The routine was crazy," Daniel Johnson said. "I don't think I've ever done that much cardio in my life."

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"They wanted me to lose about 20 pounds, and I've lost 50," Johnson said. "So I'm well past where they wanted me to be, but I know that will help in the recovery. So with [Daniel], although he played college football for four years, he was in good shape with no belly fat. But they still wanted him to lose some weight just to make sure he doesn't have issues down the road."

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The superintendent and his son said they feel confident they will celebrate a sucessful outcome of the surgeries. Plus, there is another celebration looming as well. 

Johnson is getting married soon. Though he wouldn't disclose a date or further details, he said: "When I get back to work, I may have a new kidney and a new wife." 

Eddie Johnson talks about his fiancee and their plans for marriage.

And a better quality of life. The superintendent will spend about three to five days in the hospital, and he said recovery will be between two and five weeks. 

Eddie Johnson talks about what will happen after his surgery this month.
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