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Kidney transplant surgery goes ‘smoothly’ for Eddie Johnson and son

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and his 25-year-old son Daniel Johnson, who is donating a kidney to his father, arrive with family members at Rush University Medical Center for his kidney transplant. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and his son were doing well Wednesday evening after the top cop’s “successful” kidney transplant operation, officials said.

“Everything went smoothly and as expected for both donor and recipient,” Rush University Medical Center spokesman John Pontarelli said in an email.

“Superintendent Johnson is in fair condition: vital signs are stable, he is conscious and comfortable and indicators are favorable,” Pontarelli said.

Johnson’s donor, his 25-year-old son Daniel, was in good condition. It is expected to take about six weeks for the pair to recuperate.

The three-hour operation was performed by Dr. Martin Hertl and Dr. Edward Hollinger.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson’s family watches as he addresses the media before kidney transplant surgery at Rush University Medical Center on Wednesday morning. Johnson’s 25-year-old son, Daniel, Johnson (blue tank top) is donating a kidney to his father. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

As he walked into the hospital Wednesday morning before surgery, Eddie Johnson seemed lighthearted.

When asked by a reporter to reflect on the surreal concept of having his son’s kidney sewn into his body, Johnson smiled.

“Well, part of me is in him, you know, so he’s just giving it back to me,” he said.

“I just hope I don’t get the urge to do the things that college kids do,” he said, poking at his son, Daniel, a graduate of Knox College.

Johnson, 57, has beamed with a lot of fatherly pride recently. Daniel, who currently works as an elementary school teacher, is in the process of applying to become a Chicago cop. He stood beside his dad Wednesday morning.

Johnson, who’s battled a chronic kidney disorder for years, said healthy eating and 40 minutes of cardio exercise daily for the last seven months have left him 50 pounds lighter.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

Johnson also took a moment Wednesday to talk about organ donation.

“There’s a lot of great people that still have contributions to make to this world, unfortunately they have different issues they have to deal with in terms of organ donation. So you know I look at God gave us all two kidneys and maybe he gave us two so you could let someone borrow one if they need to. So I just want people to know that you can change somebody’s life, absolutely change somebody’s life by donating.”

Hospital officials said they would provide an update on the Johnsons’ condition Thursday morning.

Typically, the survival rate of kidney recipients after one year is 95 percent, according to Dr. John Fung, director of the University of Chicago Medicine Transplantation Institute, which performs about 100 kidney transplants annually.

If the patient survives the first year, there’s a 50 percent chance the kidney will still be working 10 years later, he said. That jumps to 66 percent after 10 years if the kidney comes from a living donor, Fung said.

Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout, Stefano Esposito