Time was running out for Lynn resident Chris Johnson. He had been suffering from kidney failure, and without a donor, he didn’t have much longer to live.
More than 1,000 miles away in Indiana, registered nurse and administrator Cheryl Welp had been planning to donate a kidney to a woman in Tennessee, but the timing wasn’t right for the woman to undergo a transplant. The woman shared a story she had seen on Facebook about Johnson, who was in desperate need of a kidney, and encouraged Welp to consider donating to him instead.
“I was so touched by Chris’ story that I knew I wanted to help,” Welp said. “The idea that you can save another person’s life is pretty amazing.”
While at BWH for testing to ensure her kidney would be a good match, Welp was able to meet Johnson, and both of their surgeries were scheduled for March 5.
Days later, Welp sat in Johnson’s hospital room to spend time with him and his family.
“Chris is one of the most precious people I have ever met,” Welp said. “He’s my brother now.”
Stefan G. Tullius, MD, chief of Transplant Surgery, said it has been amazing to see Welp and Johnson’s friendship blossom throughout this process.
“It’s wonderful we have people like Cheryl in this world who are able to change the lives of transplant recipients,” Tullius said.
Johnson said he owes it to Welp and the world to pay it forward. He plans to focus his energy on recovery and make it his personal mission to find a kidney for the woman in Tennessee, who made the donation possible by connecting Welp with him.