By TRINA RUNNER
News & Journal Staff Writer
If you want to see what a life-changing phone call does to a person, go to Facebook and look up “A Kidney Match for Julia”. The page shows live footage of Clarksburg resident Julia Jackson as she reacts to being told a kidney was waiting for her. The emotional journey was documented in local news as she praised God and thanked her family and prepared for the life-saving procedure at UPMC.
On June 13, 2016, Jackson received the kidney from a deceased donor and began her year-long follow-up that has included traveling to Pittsburgh twice a month, taking her anti-rejection medication and overcoming a medical issue that was not properly diagnosed for eight months. Through her faith and the support of her family, Jackson is thrilled to celebrate her one year transplant anniversary on June 13 with a family dinner at her mother’s house, reflecting on all the blessings that came her way in the last 12 months.
Last year, the call came right after midnight. The hospital said that they had a perfect match. What she didn’t know at the time was that the other donor kidney saved an additional life and now she and the other recipient consider themselves to be “sisters by donor”. Jackson’s real-life twin sister Janet helped spread the word about Julia’s search for a match and helped raise funds and awareness for the importance of organ donation.
As the family prayed, the answers came and now Julia’s one-year transplant anniversary is cause to celebrate for the entire family. Because someone was generous enough to donate their kidney, the Jacksons have had an entire year of watching Julia gain her strength and participate more fully in her life again.
She had lost her other kidney nearly 25 years ago and when this kidney began to fail, she had to go to dialysis while she waited to be put on a transplant list and then, once on the list, for the hospital to find a match. Her match, it turned out, was a rare exact match with 111 tests being positive.
Since the operation, she has had to maintain a bacteria-free lifestyle as much as possible but is grateful that God blessed her with a second chance at living a healthy, happy life. As the summer kicks into gear in 2017, the Jacksons have a much brighter future than they could have ever imagined and hope that their story inspires others to have hope and to donate organs to help save lives.