As a donor mother, I was truly inspired by the amazing legacy my son Jeffrey “JJ” Johns left after his passing. It became my passion to inspire and educate the community about the importance and need of organ, eye and tissue donation. I started JJ’s Legacy in 2010 to honor Jeffrey and other donor families in Kern County. This organization has grown to be so much more than I ever imagined! Today, JJ’s Legacy is educating and inspiring our community to become registered organ, eye and tissue donors. We now have a Medical Grant program which provides grants to recipients’ families and honors donor families in Kern County.
Jeffrey saved five lives through organ donation and enhanced fifty lives through tissue and cornea donation. His heart saved a 64 year-old married man named Carl. My family had the honor of meeting Carl. He asked us if we would like to listen to Jeffrey’s heart. Knowing that my son’s heart was in the same room with us and that I could listen to his heartbeat filled me with tremendous waves of emotion. Since his transplant, Carl has been able to return to work as an actor.
Jackie was a young, 14 year-old girl when she started dialysis in 2004. After receiving her gift of life, Jeff’s left kidney, she is dialysis free and lives a healthy life. We had the honor of meeting her, and she was immensely grateful for her new kidney. Jackie’s transplant allowed her to complete her high school education and now she is enrolled in nursing school.
From his cornea tissue Jeffrey also was able to give two people the gift of sight. Now they can see sunrises and sunsets! Jeffrey’s right kidney, liver, right and left lungs have given others the gift of life.
Jeffrey had an infectious love for life, and JJ’s Legacy is one way that continues. He is loved by family and friends, and we remember him every single day. The loss of Jeffrey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, confusion and painful grief. But through the support of my family and friends who have become part of JJ’s Legacy, I have the strength and courage to continue to move forward.
I often hear Jeffrey’s voice saying to me, “Mom: if you are going to do something, do it the very best you can!” And that is why JJ’s Legacy exists. Will you join me today in registering as an organ,eye and tissue donor?
Mother of Jeffrey Johns,
An Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor