For the first time on Tuesday, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson spoke candidly about the moment he found out he had kidney disease.
In an emotional speech, Johnson said he first learned the news when he took the medical exam to become a Chicago police officer.
“Your physical exam came back, they noticed something wrong,” he said he was told. “Imagine being a healthy, athletic person your entire life and having to go to a nephrologist, a kidney specialist who performed a biopsy. Imagine being 25 years old and you’re laying in a hospital bed.”
It was then Johnson said he was told he’d need a new kidney in three or four years.
“This is not going to beat me,” he said. “I was told at 25 years old that I would probably need a new kidney in three or four years. Here we are 31 years later and I’m still putting along with these two puppies in me, right.”
The speech was part of the first organ summit in the city, as Chicago hospitals look to become the nation’s organ transplant hub and match more donors with those in need. Currently, there are 4,7000 on the Illinois waiting list.
“It’s overwhelming,” Johnson said. “The fact that people walk up to me on the street and say, ‘Hey, if I’m a blood match, I would give you my kidney’ -- that’s just incredible.”
Johnson is perhaps weeks away from receiving a new kidney. He said it’s down to the final 15 or so to see if there is a possible match.
Though he has known about his health issue for years, a transplant wasn’t necessary until now.
But he doesn’t just want to find a match for himself.
“Organ transplants are so desperately needed and the thing is, we can do it,” he said. “It’s not a heavy lift. We can do this, and if I don’t do anything else, I will… I promise you we will resolve this violence problem and while we’re doing that I will be forever a spokesman for organ donation because I believe in God and I believe it works.”