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Donor Stories

A Christmas Hero

J. Johnson gradFifteen years ago, on Christmas Day in 1998, Joey Johnson, gave the ultimate gift. He saved five lives after he died suddenly at the age of 19.

“Christmas Day was usually a time of joy and celebration for our family,” said Bernetta Calloway, Joey’s mother. “But that day brought more sorrow than we ever experienced.”

A recent graduate from Marion Franklin High School in Columbus, Joey had a promising future. He was outgoing and active in martial arts. “He was incredibly loving,” said Bernetta, “he brought energy and happiness to our lives.”

The night Joey died; doctors did everything they could to save his life. “By the time we arrived, it was too late,” said Bernetta. Joey was a registered organ and tissue donor, a decision his mother said was in line with the way he lived his life.J. Johnson sister

“Losing Joey was devastating, but knowing that he helped others through death has been a comfort to us all,” said Bernetta. She credits her faith with helping her through the tragedy, “Without faith, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Bernetta and her family have become advocates for organ donation since Joey’s death. She volunteers with Lifeline of Ohio to share the importance of organ and tissue donation and promotes the cause in the African American community. “Many people in our community think ‘Whatever I came with, I’m taking with me.’ We need to get away from that notion because we can make such a big difference as organ donors,” she said.

Joey Johnson left a hero’s legacy by choosing to the give the “Gift of Life.” You can too, by registering today in the Ohio Donor Registry.

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