SPMS Custodian: I’m My Brother’s Keeper
A Severna Park Middle School custodian will donate a kidney to his brother on Wednesday, and thanks the school for its support.
When Severna Park Middle School custodian Dovell Johnson’s brother learned he needed a kidney transplant, Johnson immediately stepped up to help.
At first, he planned on donating a kidney to a stranger so his brother could get one in return. Then Johnson discovered he was a perfect match for the transplant and that his own kidney could save his brother’s life.
“When it all came back and I found out I was a match the first thing I did was I called my mom,” Johnson said. “By the time I called my brother to tell him, I found out my mom was so happy she had already told him. And then it was like, wow, I am directly helping him.”
Johnson, 23, didn’t think he would be a match for his brother Rhondell Jones because they don’t have the same father. But when Jones’ kidneys began to fail due to a medication he was taking, Johnson said he had to find a way to help.
“He never asked me to do anything,” Johnson said. “So one day when he was sleeping I took his paperwork and called one of the numbers in there and explained I wanted to help. Then it turned out I was a match.”
Johnson and Jones will undergo surgery on Wednesday, and Johnson will miss six weeks of work to recover. However, Johnson didn’t have that many sick days available—that’s when the staff at Severna Park Middle School came to his rescue.
Members of the staff donated their sick days to Johnson so he would have enough time for his recovery.
“This place has been amazing, just amazing. Like I can’t explain how helpful they have been,” Johnson said of the middle school staff. “Where I come from, people don’t like Severna Park and they tell me they don’t like my kind. And I tell them they are wrong. I say, ‘You have never been to Severna Park.’ I love the whole staff, and I can’t stress that enough.”
Johnson grew up in Meade and went to Meade High School. He now lives in Severn with his grandmother. His brother lives in Glen Burnie.
Johnson said the staff has organized a meal schedule for him when he is out. Once a week, someone from Severna Park Middle will bring Johnson a meal to help him out while he is recovering.
“They have been so supportive I don’t know the words to explain how appreciative I am of them,” Johnson said. “If I could I would come back to work on Friday when I get out of the hospital. I love it here that much.”
After the surgery, Johnson said he plans to get a tattoo above his scar to honor his brother.
“I want to get a hand, pulling up another hand as if it was falling from a cliff,” Johnson said. “And I want it to say ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ so I always remember I saved his life. It will be fly.”
Johnson said he joked with his brother and told him he could have his kidney for $35.99. In a more serious vein, Johnson said Jones, who is 30, practically raised him and added there's nothing he wouldn’t do to help him.
“I can’t wait for the surgery,” he said. “I am anxious and nervous but it was one of those things I didn’t even think twice about. I think anyone would do it especially when it was your brother. He practically raised me. It is the least I can do.”