Weight Management program offers hope for Clear Lake man waiting for kidney transplant

In early 2016, Jerrod Johnson of Clear Lake thought it would be fun to celebrate his 28th birthday in style with a trip to Las Vegas. Little did he realize his life would change forever shortly after he returned from the trip.

After an ER visit, he was diagnosed with kidney failure and hospitalized for over a week. “During my construction work layoff, I hadn’t felt well all winter,” Jerrod explained. “I had retained a massive amount of fluid — 18 kilos — and started dialysis in the hospital.”

At five foot, seven inches, Jerrod weighed between 250 and 255 and had experienced high blood pressure since he was 15.

“It didn’t really sink in while I was in the hospital that I would be on dialysis and eventually need a transplant,” he said. “After about two weeks, I had to face reality.”

He was referred to the University of Minnesota Transplant Clinic and underwent a battery of tests. The results were OK, except his weight. In order to be considered for a kidney transplant, his weight needed to be under 226. He tried to lose it on his own but didn’t have success.

With help from the “Weighting for Transplant” grant, Jerrod entered CentraCare’s Weight Management program in spring 2017 where he received care from a team of providers, dietitians and wellness coaches, along with specialized food products — all for free. He was able to drop the weight needed to be activated on the transplant list by October 2017.

The holiday season was tough and he regained 20 pounds, felt awful and was removed from the transplant list. With new resolve in the new year, Jerrod re-entered CentraCare’s Weight Management program and has dropped down to 216 and has a goal weight of 200 pounds.

“I feel great right now,” Jerrod shared. “This program really works — you learn how to eat right and see results.”

Perhaps the best news is that he’s back on the list and looking forward to getting a kidney, hopefully in the next year or two, and has a goal to return to his work in construction.

Review more Weight Management and Kidney Program patient stories

About the Weighting for Transplant Program

For the first three years of the program, the grants came from the St. Cloud Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary Fund. In October 2018, the program received a $24,263 grant to assist patients like Jerrod who need to lose weight before becoming eligible for an organ transplant.

In addition, SCH Volunteer Auxiliary will be funding $3,000 from November 2018 to October 2019 for several Weighting for Transplant participants to participate in integrative therapies (acupuncture and/or medical massage) offered at Lifestyle Health.