Georgia mom donates kidney to help another mother
ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A flyer at a Suwanee, Georgia tae kwon do studio brought two strangers together.
But this was just the beginning of their story.
On one side, Vonchelle Knight, a 50-year old single mother of two with polycystic kidney disease, who's been searching for a donor for eight years.
On the other, Amanda Hayhurst, a 32-year old married mother of two, led by her faith, to donate one of her kidneys to Vonchelle.
Their surgeries took place Friday at Atlanta's Piedmont Hospital.
"It's funny, I'm not afraid," Amanda Hayhurst says, waiting in the hospital’s pre-op area. "God called me to do this. He's protected me the whole time, and I know he's protecting me."
As Vonchelle arrives, she and Amanda embrace.
"Are you excited," Hayhurst whispers.
"I am so grateful to be here," Knight says. "Amanda looks good. She feels good. She's excited. I'm excited."
Hayhurst is rolled back to the OR first, as Knight waits for her turn.
She knows how much she needs this gift.
"I'm not worried about anything,” she says, her voice choking with emotion. “It's going to be fine. I'm just really, really grateful.”
Knight’s sister and family have driven in from Tennessee.
"It's like being reborn again," Valita McHenry says. "She has to start all over. She gets to do things she hasn't done for so long. And, I think it's just going to be a joy."
It takes about an hour to carefully detach Amanda Hayhurst’s kidney,
Then, Knight’s surgeon Dr. Miguel Tan takes over, rushing it two doors down to Vonchelle's operating room.
Tan says a living donor kidney will change everything for Vonchelle, whose own kidneys have failed.
"They come in sick. They come in on dialysis, with other issues," Tan says. "And they come out with an organ, and they basically get their lives back afterwards. You put in the organ and the patients are so much different, and so much better after this."
At 1:26 p.m., Amanda Hayhurst's kidney is sewn into Vonchelle Knight, becoming part of her.
"What we usually see in this case is probably within 20 minutes of sewing in the kidney, it's making urine already," Tan says. "So, it's almost instantaneous, how quickly these kidneys function."
The next day, Hayhurst and Knight pose for a photo in Knight’s hospital room.
They’re sore, grateful, and forever connected.
"I just love her so much, and I'm excited to do this for her," Amanda Hayhurst says.