Cherokee County School District employee donates kidney to student

Two strangers within the Cherokee County School District will soon share a lifelong bond.

Joy Silk, a supervisor of digital learning, is donating a kidney to Maggie Haynes, a student in the district.

Silk said it all started after a conversation with her friend after a workout class in July of 2019.

"My mother had donated her kidney to a stranger last summer. And my friend Alyson just said, how's your mom doing? And in the course of the conversation she began to tell us about these two girls in her family, Maggie and Lily and about a disease that they have called cystinosis," Silk said.

It was during this chat Silk learned 14-year-old Maggie would eventually need a kidney transplant.

"Alyson said we'll have to do a paired swap because there is nobody left in the family with her type of blood. And I said 'well what does she have?' And she said 'O positive.' And I was like, 'You know what? That's my type blood. When the time comes, I’ll be happy to put my name in and see if I can help,'" Silk said.

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Maggie and her sister were both born with Cystinosis, a disease that affects organs of the body.

"The medicine is really hard and it makes me feel really bad and I can't do everyday things because the medicine makes me feel so bad," Maggie said.

Last summer, shortly after Silk learned about Maggie's situation, Maggie's kidney started failing.

Soon, school, sports and hanging out with friends were all put on hold.

"When pretty much at the point Maggie is with the decline in her kidney, you would need to start dialysis. That was basically our next step," said Ashley Haynes, Maggie's mother.

Silk said she contacted Haynes and let her know about the conversation she had with Alyson last July.

She went through the tests and found out she was a match for Maggie.

The two are scheduled for surgery Friday morning.


Maggie said she's nervous about the surgery but excited to be able to enjoy activities once she's recovered.

"I'm really thankful that somebody would like to go through pain to help somebody they don't even know," Maggie said.

She said she plans on giving the new kidney a special name.

"We're naming the kidney Jo-Jo because my middle name is Jo and Joy's name is Joy. And on Oct 2, we're going to celebrate the kidney's birthday," she said.

Silk said she believes this was all meant to be and said it has been a rewarding experience for her.

"The blessing has been all mine," she said. "I heard about a parent whose children are suffering and I thought well I have the same blood type and I’ve just seen this procedure done, so absolutely, why would I not do that?"

Maggie could have waited years for a kidney if she was placed on the transplant waitlist.

Silk, Maggie and Haynes said they hope others consider becoming donors to help others.

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