Doctors warned Jason Missouri 12 years ago that both of his kidneys could stop working. Yet, the Chester church musician known for warm smiles and soul-soothing keyboard gospel music refused to give up.
Instead, the 44-year old Camden man held onto his faith and played tunes ministering as much to the Sandy River Baptist Church congregation as himself. He always held out hope that God would send him a kidney, but he never thought it would come through a family tragedy.
His younger brother, Jimmy, suffered a brain aneurysm and died Nov. 14. Services were heldSaturday. In his brother's death, Missouri gets a new chance at life.
"The doctors knew I needed a kidney," said Missouri, who waited three years for a suitable kidney. "They recommended that I use my brother's kidney."
Missouri drove to Georgia, where he underwent a kidney transplant at the Medical College of Georgia.
"I just want to get on my knees and pray," Missouri said. "I owe it all to God. It's not about me."
Wilhelmina Missouri said her son's kidney transplant was successful.
"The kidney is taking well," she said when reached last week at her Kershaw County home. "He won't have to go to dialysis anymore. I just want him to get well and keep playing music. He's touched so many people's hearts."
Missouri, who started picking out songs by ear on his mother's piano when he was 5 years old, plans to return to Sandy River to play music in January.
"That's the gift God gave me to share with the world," he said. "That's my calling."
For now, Missouri will focus on his recovery. Although he came home Thanksgiving Day, Missouri will take 12 pills daily and go back and forth to the hospital for the next six weeks, he said.
"I have to be very careful because my immune system hasn't been developed," he explained.
Keith Taylor, pastor of Sandy River Baptist, said Missouri is the epitome of endurance.
"He had rough days, but he worked through them," Taylor said. "He went to dialysis, but he still made it to church. He just kept on going."
According to the National Kidney Foundation of South Carolina, more than 600 residents of the state are waiting for a kidney transplant. Of that, three out of four are black. The state ranks second in the United States in need for organs among blacks.
Those interested in donating money to the foundation can send checks to: NKF of South Carolina, Inc., 500 Taylor St., Suite 101, Columbia, SC 29201-3000. For details, call (800) 488-2277 or (803) 799-3870.