A woman in Montgomery, Alabama is getting a new kidney after putting up billboards in her area asking for donors rather than relying, and possibly dying, on the donor waiting list. Verna Johnson was contacted by local credit union teller Jaime Burchfield and released a video on Facebook of the two meeting after Burchfield agreed to donate her kidney and save Johnson’s life.
The video shows Johnson receiving the news and staring in shock at Burchfield before the two share a long and tearful embrace.
It is with great excitement and anticipation that we announce VERNA “GOT” A KIDNEY!In the big picture, Kidney Disease has become a national epidemic. In America, 37 million adults suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. Over 100,000 people are on the Kidney Donor Waiting List. This list continues to grow in size year after year.Here at home, Alabama ranks 5th Worst in the nation in the number of cases of Kidney Disease. Recent studies reveal that Alabama has the longest transplant wait time of any state in the country. The average national wait time is 3-5 years. In Alabama, you could easily increase that wait time to 7 years or more.The Verna Needs A Kidney Facebook page launched in April of 2019. From the beginning, our belief was “if we carried the message, God would do the rest. Through His grace and the hard work of many loving people, Verna's campaign was able to reduce the wait time to just 5 months.I have heard it said that “sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts that God sends your way.” That was definitely the case here. Verna's successful campaign was the result of social media, news outlets, and businesses... partnering with the community.The VERNA NEEDS A KIDNEY Facebook page would like to express gratitude to all involved! Thank you for your empathy and support!Any grassroots organization or campaign is void without community support. The love the public poured onto the "Verna Needs A Kidney" Facebook page was amazing! We may not all be called to donate a kidney, but we are all called to care! Thank you for all the “prayers” and “shares”! By helping get the word out.... you are equally responsible for this miracle!A special “Thank You” goes out to Mashburn Outdoor Advertising. The company's billboards in Birmingham and Montgomery proclaimed VERNA NEEDS A KIDNEY to thousands and thousands of commuters each day. What began as a company trying to make a difference led to a deep friendship with Verna's campaign. The entire company followed Verna's progress and cheered her on as updates were shared!We would also like to thank all reporters and news outlets that covered Verna's story. Your compassion in reporting has not only helped Verna, but also furthered awareness of kidney disease and the need for Living Kidney Donors. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do in the name of Organ Donation. You are helping to save lives!Finally, words can not express the feelings of gratitude that Verna Johnson has for her Donor. This courageous and selfless act is not only saving her life, but also adding quality to it! You are an example of what is good in the world! Thank you for stepping forward and setting an example for us all.The Living Kidney Donor (Ms. Jaime Burchfield) came forward as a result of a Facebook post placed on the Church Of The Highlands Community Page. Surgery is scheduled for the end of October at UAB Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama. * With respect to donor, recipient, and families... we request privacy the day of surgery.Posted by Verna Needs A Kidney on Tuesday, October 8, 2019
According to a local CBS affiliate, Burchfield learned about Johnson’s need through her church’s Facebook page and felt called to help.
“God just placed this desire in my heart, like he was saying ‘Jaime, I need you to do this,’” she said.
The two share the same blood type—O positive—and the procedure has been scheduled at UAB Hospital for the end of the month.
Johnson was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2017 after watching her sister Marcella battle the same illness for 11 years while on the kidney donation waiting list. Unfortunately, Marcella died in 2015 without getting her kidney. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 13 people die every day waiting for a kidney, and a new patient is added to the list every 14 minutes.
After her own diagnosis, Johnson decided to take a proactive approach in April and put up the billboards that caught national attention, relying on her faith to deliver.
“As you go through this journey, when you find out you have a donor, there’s an overwhelming feeling of joy and there’s this peace that comes over you,” she said. “This is all God. We do the work and God will do the rest.”
The good news has reinforced Johnson’s faith as well as saving her life. “I knew God would send someone,” she said.
Now that she has been given a second chance, Johnson says she wants to use her extra time to help people.
“This has given me a sense of power, a sense of wanting to help others and encourage them. I want to be a voice for others and continue working on their behalf.”