Milike Johns was a minister, active in his church and playing the role of primary caregiver for his mother. So when he got sick seven and a half years ago, unable to keep food or drink down, it came as a total shock when he came to Lankenau Medical Center and found out his kidneys had failed. Milike went on dialysis right away and was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list—but he could never have foreseen the series of challenges he would face in the years to come.
A busted graft (artificial vein implanted beneath the skin for dialysis administration) and an emergency trip to the hospital. And later, an ankle twist and fall which seemed like nothing at the time but turned out to be a broken pinky toe, dislocated shoulder, peritoneal dialysis infection and perforation, back fractures, a hernia, and swelling which led to fluid retention and a need for tubing in his chest. Milike developed pneumonia and had to go on a respirator, even ending up with a trach (tube in his throat) and sepsis (a severe blood infection).
“It was bad,” he reflects. “The transplant team didn’t think there was any way I would become active on the kidney transplant list again.”
The long road back to the kidney transplant waiting list
All in all, Milike was hospitalized for more than four months followed by time spent in a rehab facility where he had to learn to swallow, eat, talk and walk again. When he returned home, things were “quiet” for a while but he took another fall after a dialysis treatment, which led to a broken hip and surgery, followed by three more months in rehab. But this time when he was discharged from rehab, he was given the “all clear” from his cardiologist, Dr. Droogan, and one month later received his kidney transplant—seven and a half years after he was first diagnosed with kidney failure.
Milike attributes his faith in God and the support of his family for getting him through the tough times. To other patients awaiting kidney transplant, Milike has this advice: “Be patient. Rely on your support system. Roll with the punches and stay faithful to the fact that it might happen. You can’t get discouraged by the things that are going on.”
“Be patient. Rely on your support system. Roll with the punches and stay faithful to the fact that it might happen. You can’t get discouraged by the things that are going on.”
Now that Milike has a new kidney and a new outlook on life, he’s looking forward to going to Disney with his family and celebrating his 21st wedding anniversary. He has three daughters, Alycia (21), who wants to be a writer; Raya (13) who wants to be a vet; and Mikayla (11). He looks forward to seeing them all finish school and college. For himself, Milike’s goal is to become a minister at Lankenau, encouraging people who are having a difficult time, just as he received encouragement from the staff at Lankenau. He will soon be ordained and is looking to start his own ministry.
Of his time at Lankenau he wants everyone to know just how much the hospital means to him. “Lankenau to me means a second chance at life,” he says. “The care here has been amazing and they accepted my transfer to the hospital when other providers didn’t have faith that they would.” Milike also appreciates the care shown to his family, especially his kids while they completed their home school lessons while he was in Critical Care ICU. He’s also grateful for his doctors, Dr. Robbins (nephrologist) and Dr. Cohen (primary care physician), adding, “They visited me every day for three months. I love this hospital.”