MILWAUKEE — Carl Jackson grew up singing. He got his start in his parent’s church.

“You provide the music,” said Jackson. “If no one else is there, you’re the choir, you’re the soloist, you’re the praise team.”

What You Need To Know

  • In 2017, Carl Jackson was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure

  • He received an ICD,  an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator 

  • Soon after, he was able to get a kidney 

It’s a hobby that’s followed him through life and even got him through tough times.

In 2017, he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure.

“I didn’t get on the list,” said Jackson. “The transplant list right away. I was on dialysis for six years.” 

Jackson was considered high risk for receiving a kidney because of his heart condition. 

After a series of tests and an ICD, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, he was cleared to get a kidney.

“June of last year I got the phone call, and they said, ‘Hey, I think the doctor found a kidney that would be perfect for you.’ So that’s how we got there,” said Jackson. 

Dr. Beje Thomas is a transplant nephrologist at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. 

He said there’s a wide gap between the number of people who need a transplant and those who get one. 

“Sometimes the wait time in this country can be as long as nine years in some places,” said Thomas. “In Wisconsin roughly the longer time is four to six years or so.”

Thomas said another option is to find a living donor. This is something Jackson wasn’t able to do.

He was given a six-year credit to his time. That’s because he was already three years into dialysis when he was put on the kidney transplant list.

Jackson is nearing one year since receiving his kidney. He said thanks to family, his faith and music, he was able to get through it.

“After all of this time to be singing this after a kidney transplant in this setting it just hits you,” said Jackson. “There’s a purpose, there’s a reason for everything in life. It’s a journey.” 

He said he continues to sing, but with more gratitude and a new perspective on his health and life.