Midland man needing organ transplant turns to community

A Midland resident who needs a transplant is asking for help from the community.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 11:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MIDLAND, Mich. (WNEM) – A Midland resident who needs a transplant is asking for help from the community.

His bills are mounting as doctors try to match him with a living donor. His family is trying to raise $150,000, but they expect any procedure to cost much more.

“I want to find someone who matches me so I can go out play with my kids. Camping you know. Just be normal again,” Midland resident Kurt Johns said.

Johns spent a good portion of his life battling several illnesses. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, which is a disease of the bile ducts in the liver.

“Over the last three years when I started having like severe joint pain and swelling and all that other stuff going on and severe abdomen pain in the liver, it has just stopped me from being able to do pretty much normal lifestyle stuff and it’s just very frustrating,” Johns said.

Since his diagnosis, Johns has been flying to and from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. During Christmas, he learned he is in need of a liver transplant, so the Johns family is in search of a living donor, which Johns said his doctors believe is the best option for him instead of potentially waiting up to a year for a liver from the organ donor list.

“Because you can get matched. You can plan out the surgery,” Johns said.

With the trips to and from the Mayo Clinic, their medical bills are mounting.

“I don’t remember a life without medical bills truly each year,” Johns’ wife Andrea said.

“They’ve just gotten worse as things have gone on,” Johns said. “When we first heard it was like $1,200 bucks, and then with everything skyrocketing, ticket-wise, you’re talking over $2,000 now.”

Fortunately for the Johns family, the cost of flying is one they can take off their plate. They found a non-profit that provides free flights for patients who cannot fly commercially to receive medical treatment.

“She reached out to them, and they told us to apply, that as long as it is deemed medically necessary, they very rarely ever turn somebody down. And that has been an absolutely huge relief,” Johns said.

Johns’ sister also started a GiveSendGo donations page to help raise some of the nearly $500,000 they expect to need when he gets his life-saving transplant.

Subscribe to the TV5 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every day.