Sometimes out of the darkness there is a light. Often unexpected, but always very welcome. Such was the case following the recent tragic death of Gabe Johnson, the 20-year-old 2017 Monroe Area High School graduate who died following a car accident in Madison on May 29, 2019. Despite the fervent prayers of a whole community, on June 4, Gabe succumbed to his injuries. It was heartbreaking for his family, friends and a whole community that had so hoped for a different outcome. His parents, however, decided that their son’s life was special and they were determined that it would continue to have meaning.
“Once we knew Gabe was going to be with the Lord we immediately knew in our hearts what Gabe would want and that was to GIVE LIFE,” Gabe’s mother, Tracy Johnson, said in a post on June 26 on Prayer Warriors for Gabe Johnson, a Facebook page set up for the community to pray for Gabe in the days where there was still hope that he would survive. But once they realized that was just not meant to be, his parents decided that they would allow his organs to be donated.
“Gabe was a young 20-year-old healthy young man. Kenny and I thought it would be sinful to not use his organs to give life to others. We miss our son tremendously, but I think Gabe would be proud that he answered many prayers for the recipients and their families,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson noted that their son’s organs saved nine lives and helped 60 others. This week, they got to meet a recipient of one of those gifts.
If you’ve traveled Highway 78 through Between, Ga. any time in recent months, it would be impossible not to notice the sign on the side of the road with a photo of Kim Fuller, a 44-year-old mother of two. Fuller was desperately in need of a kidney. Her sign gave the phone number of the Emory transplant line and asked for a living donor. This would be the second kidney that Fuller needed. In 2014, after Fuller was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, her mother was able to donate a kidney to help save her life. But after a cruise in celebration, Fuller found out that she had contracted the BK virus which eventually caused the rejection of the kidney. Her life was once again in the balance and that sign went up on Highway 78 asking for a living donor.
But that sign is no longer necessary. Instead, in recent days it had the phone number crossed out and the words, “Praise God!! A kidney found” added. Kim Fuller was one of those nine recipients that Gabe’s mother spoke of. She got one of Gabe’s kidneys.
“I’m sitting here trying to find the right words to express my feelings, but I don’t know if it can be done. Recently we got to meet Kim Fuller, which is the Woman who received our son Gabe’s kidney. We stand here with smiles on our face because we know a part of Gabe lives on. This is a perfect example of how God can use EVERYTHING for his glory. I can’t explain to you in words the feeling I had inside looking at her knowing Gabe’s kidney was inside of her and making her better. I immediately felt a loving bond with her,” Johnson wrote in her Facebook post, adding, “I know Gabe is smiling down from heaven that something good did come out of this tragedy.”
Johnson is urging everyone to be prepared to make that same difference in someone’s life by signing up to be a donor.
“Please make a difference in someone’s life. Answer a prayer. Sign up in Gabe’s memory,” she wrote, with a link to the donor registry.