Donated kidney gives Picayune teen a second chance at life

Jonah Stevenson and his donor Rodney Pearson.
Jonah Stevenson and his donor Rodney Pearson.

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Four years ago, what was meant to be a routine trip to the doctor turned into a fight for 18-year-old Jonah Stevenson's life. Tina Collier just thought her son had strep throat, but Jonah's sky-rocketing blood pressure levels showed that something more serious was going on.

"It just never occurred to me that at the age of 14 we would face something like this," said Collier. "I just assumed he would always be healthy."

Jonah's primary care physician Dr. Delora Denney ordered a series of examinations.

"When we got the evaluations back, it was clear that Jonah had chronic kidney disease," said Denney.

Because it's a disease that doesn't typically affect young people, the doctors couldn't give a reason for Jonah's diagnosis. The family didn't need to hear a medical explanation.

Jonah's mother said, "We've known from the beginning of this that God has a plan, and we have held on to that truth."

They decided right then and there to fight this battle together, allowing their faith to take control. They've faced a number of obstacles along the way, taking the biggest hit this past January.

"He had no kidney function and he was put in Ochsner to have a Quinton Dialysis catheter placed in his chest to have for dialysis," said Collier.

That's when the family began commuting an hour to New Orleans three times a week for treatment. After years of turmoil, good news finally came in the most unexpected way.

"I received a Facebook message from Rodney Pearson; he's a member of our church," said Collier. "He works with the youth at First Baptist Church of Picayune, where we attend church. He asked me if he could give a kidney to Jonah."

After a series of tests doctors gave the green light, and on July 24 the transplant was complete. The family calls it an answered prayer.

Jonah's father Joel Stevenson said, "God made a way every step of the way. When things looked the darkest, he would make a way. We cannot deny it."

Now Jonah is a happy healthy senior in high school. He can do anything any other kid can do, under a few conditions.

Following his transplant, Jonah had to wear a surgical mask to help keep germs away, so his friend, Devin, made him a special one with his school's mascot to wear at football games. But Jonah doesn't mind.

He said with his family, friends, and faith, he's ready to face whatever challenge may come his way.

For more information on how you can become an organ donor, visit"

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