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Woman makes billboard plea

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Jan 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM

A Lebanon woman has gone so far as to set up a billboard to help save her husband’s life.

The billboard is located on Interstate 40 West heading into Nashville and features Cindy Johnson’s photo with a phone number and website under the plea; “Help save my husband’s life. Living kidney donor needed.”

Cindy said the effort came about due to her husband of 32 years, Bobby Johnson, 58, battling end stage renal failure. Along with living with the chronic kidney disease, Bobby has also been on dialysis for 18 months.

“It got to the point where it wasn’t working,” Cindy said. “And the doctor told us he would need a kidney soon.”

Cindy said Bobby did in-home dialysis for 14 months and recently changed to hemodialysis, which he completes in Nashville. She said he has also been suffering secondary issues.

“Instead of being reactive, like me, my sister got proactive and looked into ways people can find kidney donors,” Cindy said.

Cindy said her sister, Nancy Check, quickly took action and came across an option on the Internet of placing an ad on a billboard to garner donors.

“She asked us about it and Bobby said ‘absolutely not,’ but she and I were talking and she basically said she could and would still do it,” Cindy said. “She’s been our hero.”

The billboard went up Jan. 6 and will remain up for a month and immediately up its setup Cindy said she began receiving calls, and so did her husband.

“People at work were calling him and asking him about it and by that night he was ecstatic because people were already talking about it,” Cindy said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of responses, we’ve just been in awe at all the calls and help and people saying their sending prayers; it’s been amazing, we feel truly blessed.”

According to Cindy, they have received calls from New York to Florida and ranged from states to Kentucky to West Virginia to Michigan and beyond.

“It’s been craziness, but we feel very blessed and humbled that people are willing to do this,” Cindy said.

Since the billboard has been up, Cindy said things have totally changed.

“We’re very hopeful now. My husband’s whole demeanor has changed,” Cindy said. “Instead of him saying things like ‘when I’m gone,’ he talks in terms of ‘when I get better,’” Cindy said.

Cindy also said the billboard serves more purposes than just one.

“We’re hoping to get him [a kidney], but also really to raise awareness,” Cindy said. “Thousands of people die every year because they don’t have a transplant.

“I know a lot of people besides him need kidneys and you don’t think about giving up an organ everyday, it’s a big commitment,” Cindy said. “This shows there are good people out there.”

For more information on how to donate a kidney to Bobby, call 615-559-8450 or visit bobbyskidney.com.

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