At 21, Justin Garrison was a young man focused on his family and a competitive college football scholarship. He never imagined that a high blood pressure reading during a routine visit might change the course of his future. Nonetheless, his urine sample also tested high for protein and Justin was soon diagnosed with MPGN Type III. He needed a kidney transplant.
“At first, I didn’t believe it,” said Justin. “I was young and I couldn't accept that I was sick.”
Justin joined over 4,000 Oklahomans on dialysis, but he still didn’t take his diagnosis seriously. In 2017, he had a seizure. “I realized it was time to get serious about my health,” he said. “I finally understood that the strict advice I was given from Dr. Kundi and my care team at Ascension St. John was coming from the best possible place.”
By that time, Justin had a wife and two children. He prayed for a donor for a year, and in the meantime he was able to get care nearby at the Ascension St. John Transplant Center, the only program in the region. This helped Justin stay in enrolled in the Police Academy in Pawhuska and be near his family. Otherwise, he would have had to of received care in Oklahoma City to stay in state.
On October 20, Justin received a kidney donation from a deceased donor. Thanks to the diligent care he received before, during and after his transplant, Justin is recovering and is expected to live a long and healthy life.
In March of this year, the Ascension St. John Transplant Center became the only operating kidney transplant center in the region, but it rose to the challenge by doubling the number of transplants performed-- all while maintaining its status as a top transplant program in the country. The program has completed a record number of 60 transplants so far, and is on track to surpass this number before the end of the year. Without this program, which serves patients Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, patients would be forced to travel hours and stay overnight to receive care. There are more than 500 Oklahomans on the kidney transplant list, all requiring frequent, diligent medical care.
“I am so grateful to the transplant team for sticking with me, even when I wasn’t ready to accept my illness. I hope my story inspires others to trust the process - hope is there.” says Justin. He is enjoying the holidays with his family this year.