If you passed this young man on the street, walking in the mall or sitting in a doctor's office; you first impression might be just an ordinary long haired, tattooed, maybe " retros sixties eras " person. You would have no idea that he is literally a multiple walking miracle and a faithful Disciple of the Lord whose mantra is" If you will give me the work; and the strength to do that work- I will , I must give you the glory for it!”
Well, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. First, let me introduce you to Johnny Smelley. He is a humble, hard working man who loves the Lord, loves his wife and family. Nothing extraordinary about that in East Texas, right? But I want to share with you his personal medical and faith journey that has shaped Johnny into the man he is today.
You see Johnny became a diabetic at age seven. He was declared legally blind in his early twenties which caused him to lose his job. He could no longer drive and because he was a diabetic( his fingertips were toughened from testing) he was unable to read Braille. In 1993 he was diagnosed with kidney disease and declared disable in his twenties.
God blessed him with his first miracle at age 23 by restoring his sight. Two years later, Johnny met Wendy Campbell who would later become his wife. Now, Johnny had knowledge of God but had not accepted Christ as his Savior. He recounts a special day when he was sitting outside Brookshire Brothers in Rusk waiting for Wendy to get off. An elderly lady was putting her groceries in her car and got in to leave. But then she got back,out and walked over to Johnny and handed him a Bible tract. He was used to getting them and usually just sit them around somewhere. This time however, he said when he got home that evening, he read it and that day Johnny asked the Lord to be the head of his life. In his words" I accepted the Lord as my Savior-God's word will not return to Him void."
Johnny says he will never forget that lady nor the house at 524 Tyler Street where Christ became his Savior. He still has the Bible tract!
After taking an antibiotic, Johnny's weak kidneys failed completely. He was end stage renal disease and placed on a transplant list. In August 2002, he received a kidney/ pancreas transplant at Baylor in Dallas. He was one of two having the same kind of transplant that day. While the other patient had smooth sailing; Johnny suffered Murphy's law. Everything that could go wrong practically did. The pancreas given to him had a hole in it. Unbeknownst to Johnny, his wife Wendy and family, the transplant team,had repaired it prior to transplanting. The repair failed and caused infection through his body. So after 11 days Johnny suffered for three months with an infection that damaged his aortic valve.
He says in lifetime he has been non diabetic for seven years and eleven days.
Because his aortic valve was permanently damaged, he needed something else. At that time he could have chosen a mechanical or pig valve replacement. Johnny chose the pig valve replacement. During that surgery, Johnny suffered two strokes. The third day after surgery, the family was called in. Johnny wasn't expected to live through the night. Wendy takes over at this point and tells how she fell into her mother's arms singing "Praise His Name" by Jeff and Sherry Easter. This was on Good Friday in 2004. She went to the garden at Trintity Mother Frances Hospital,and surrendered her husband to God.
Easter Sunday, the next day is when God blessed Johnny with his next miracle.
Wendy walked into the hospital room to find Johnny not only alive but sitting up eating jello and drinking a coke. The pig valve lasted for 10 years.
In January 2014, Dr Patel performed a metal mechanical valve. Also that year Wendy encouraged Johnny to go for an annual pretransplant exam. It was during this exam that God blessed Johnny with miracle number three: Johnny's native kidneys had renal cell and clear cell carcinoma and those aggressive cancers were found only because he went for the transplant work up!
He has goes approximately every three months to have angioplasty on his fistula to keep it functioning properly.
Johnny says He enjoys mowing lake lots and watching the ducks and birds come down and feed. It reminds him of God's word that the birds neither sow nor reap yet God takes care of them.
He likes working on broken things because he says he is a broken vessel on a spiritual journey being molded and shaped each day. Johnny spends his days doing odd jobs for people in the community he has come to love like family. He also does special projects.
Words of wisdom for others: Our stength comes from the Lord.