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One Good Thing: From the lacrosse field to the transplant list

A West Michigan wants to use his survival story to help others.

PORTAGE, Mich. — Time for One Good Thing -- someone or something that makes West Michigan a good place to live.

Kids are usually only aware of the basics. That next homework assignment. The next game. What's for lunch. But a local teenager became aware of something much more serious. And now he wants to make other people aware of it, too.

"Behind you!"

A good sense of awareness is key to any sport, including lacrosse.

"Nice pass, nice shot."

Tristan Johnson knows this. But, on Christmas Eve 2018, 

"In the back of my mind, I knew something was definitely wrong."

The then 14 year old because aware of something entirely new.

"I had a bunch of swelling in my legs and my arms, so we were kinda worried about that."

All at once, Tristan was diagnosed with Lupus and kidney failure. 

"I didn't know anything."

But aware he needed immediate help, Tristan went straight to Helen DeVos Children's hospital.

"I started 24 hour dialysis for about three days. So I was hooked up to a machine in a hospital bed for about three days."

The Portage Northern freshman set down his lacrosse stick... 

"I was definitely expecting to try out, make varsity my freshman year. So, that threw a wrench in everything."

...and got signed up on the organ donor list. 

According to UNOS, there are currently 93,000 people the United States waiting for a kidney transplant. For most, it takes four years to find one. But less than five months after his diagnoses, Tristan got lucky.

"On May 6 of 2019 is when I had my kidney transplant."

That was two nearly two years ago.

I feel great, the best I've felt in my whole life."

Tristan is aware he'll always be on medications and has to be cautious with his one kidney. But, he's also aware... there are games to play soon.

"Our coach just emailed us about preseason, conditioning."

Tristan could just go on with his life. Not say anything about his experience. But his experience has changed his life.

"In Helen DeVos seeing little kids younger than me, I feel really bad for them. I've been given like a duty. I feel like God put me through to share the importance of organ donation and signing up, the awareness aspect."

One Good Thing to Tristan Johnson for choosing to share his story with us. If you'd like to learn more about organ donation go the The GIFT OF LIFE MICHIGAN website. By the way, you can be a living kidney donor, as you only need one, but are born with two.

If you have a One Good Thing you'd like to submit - someone or something that makes West Michigan a good place to live - email me with your photos and-or video at OneGoodThing@13OnYourSide.com.

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