COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - "I had pretty much resigned myself that I was dying," Larry Johnson admitted.
His kidney failure started five years ago. By 2015, he was on dialysis. In 2016, he was put on the transplant list.
"It's sad to think, but you're waiting for someone else to die in order that you might have a chance to continue to live," said Johnson, 62. "So, we waited."
LaRhesa Johnson, 32, was used to her dad who could do anything. She watched him spend nearly 40 years in law enforcement, including a stint as assistant chief for the College Station Police Department.
"My dad is the strongest person I know, so seeing that [kidney failure] was definitely hard," said LaRhesa Johnson.
Larry Johnson spent a lifetime taking care of his little girl. One year ago, LaRhesa realized it was her turn to care for him.
"I had never thought of it before but, 'why don't I go get tested'?" said LaRhesa. "See if I can give him a kidney."
When the doctors told LaRhesa she was a perfect match, the decision was easy to make.
"Why wouldn't I do this for him?" said LaRhesa with a laugh. "It's just a kidney."
But for her father, LaRhesa's kidney was a lifeline. His family set about planning a big reveal to tell Larry the good news; LaRhesa was a match. She even wore a shirt that said so.
"They keep saying 'Look at the shirt'," said Larry, "and I'm looking at the shirt, and I'm thinking, a match for what?"
A few minutes of confusion went by before Larry realized he was getting the most precious gift he could receive: a daughter giving life back to the father who gave her hers. That big reveal was a year ago, and even now, just days before the surgery, Larry struggles to describe the feeling.
"I have yet to be able to find the words," said Larry, his voice breaking. "How do you say that?"
"As you can see, if he cries, I cry," said LaRhesa next to him, wiping her own face.
Larry took some convincing before he decided to accept the kidney. He doesn't want to see his daughter suffer at all. In the end, LaRhesa showed him that she has no qualms and he shouldn't either.
"I'm just honored that I can do this for him," said LaRhesa.
"It has been a journey; it's been a wait," said Larry. "Now, I guess we'll start on the next part of it."
The transplant surgeries are on February 6, just one day after LaRhesa's 33rd birthday. Larry says he's excited to finally remember what it feels like to be healthy, and LaRhesa says she's excited to show off her scar, which she says with pride will be even bigger than her father's.
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