Marvis and Lasaundra Johnson got a Christmas present last week.
It was completely unexpected, but exactly what they wanted.
GIW Industries President and CEO Dennis Ziegler presented the Augusta couple with nearly $10,000 to go toward a kidney transplant for Lasaundra Johnson.
“This time of year, you hear about Christmas spirit. It’s true,” Ziegler said at the holiday luncheon Thursday at the plant in Grovetown. “People, when it became known, were very generous.
“We had some people write $500 checks, as a for instance. That’s a credit to the people who work here at GIW.”
Marvis Johnson has worked for GIW for about four years and got a little emotional about the physically oversized check for $9,635.
“I didn’t know it was going to be anything like this,” he said. “We’re really blessed. We’ve got some good people here.
“I haven’t been here long and to get that, it’s just real overwhelming.”
The Georgia Transplant Foundation is going to match the funds raised, which means the Johnsons will have nearly $20,000 to put toward the expensive transplant surgery and medications.
The couple was trying to raise the $7,300 required to put Mrs. Johnson’s name on the list to receive a transplant. The money is for necessary anti-rejection medications after the surgery.
Johnson let his employers know about his wife’s situation about a month ago. Ziegler said the company would match donations made by employees. In three weeks, employees donated nearly $5,000.
“We’re trying to get everything going,” Johnson said. “That’s a big help. I don’t know what to say. I’m glad they didn’t ask me to say anything. I’m just choked up.”
In 1988, Lasaundra Johnson was diagnosed with Lupus, which caused her kidney failure. She received a transplant from her sister in 1995.
That kidney is now failing and she found out in April that she needs a second transplant.
“It’s not like I’m going to need it tomorrow,” Johnson said. “But the best part of all is that I have the money to be on the list. So that’s the best part of it all. I can get worked up and get ready for all that.
“As soon as they call me, I can be ready to go.”
No one knows how long Mrs. Johnson will have to wait before a kidney donor match is available.
Lasaundra Johnson said after the luncheon that she planned to call the coordinator of her transplant fund with the good news that she’d gotten enough money to join the list of waiting kidney recipients.
“We’ve got the biggest part ... we’ve got the money,” Marvis Johnson said.
“We find a donor now and we’ll be ready.”