Flyer inspires Georgia woman to donate a kidney to a stranger
SUWANEE, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A tae kwon do studio may seem an odd place for your life to change course, but here Amanda Hayhurst was, at the Atlanta Choong-Sil School in Suwanee.
The 32-year old Benchmark medical sales rep was watching her 8-year old son Jett try out for his black belt, holding her baby Reese in her arms.
"He was getting a little bit fussy," Hayhurst says. "So, I took him over to the side of the room, just to console him, and that's when I looked up and I saw this flyer."
It was one of the hundreds of flyers printed and posted all over north Gwinnett County by 50-year old Vonchelle Knight and her daughters Caya, and Courtney, who works at the studio.
"And, I was just hoping and praying, somebody is going to see it, that somebody is going to read my story," Knight says.
The 50-year old Northside Hospital analyst has polycystic kidney disease.
With no one in her family able to give her a kidney, the single mother has been on a kidney donor waiting list for 8 years, sleeping every night hooked to a dialysis machine, her life on hold.
"I need a kidney, I need a kidney sooner than later," Knight says, her voice breaking.
Hayhurst says she rarely stops to read flyers, but this time she did.
"It's almost like I knew I was going to be a match before I finished reading," she says. "This feeling was so overwhelming. My body felt tingly. And I saw it happening, I saw me going through with it."
And Amanda couldn't stop thinking about Vonchelle.
"And I just remember thinking like, God forbid I ever had kidney failure, and no one in my family could donate to me," Hayhurst says. "I hope someone would have the compassion to save my life. I felt called to do this, but that overwhelmed me, that overwhelmed my soul."
So, that Monday, Hayhurst called the Piedmont Transplant Center, and began 3 months of medical testing.
On December 12, 2018, she got the call, telling her she was cleared to become Vonchelle Knight's donor.
"I was so happy, and it's crazy because I didn't know her," Hayhurst says.
That evening, she and Vonchelle's two daughters were waiting, Hayhursts mom videotaping, when Vonchelle got home from work.
"It was probably the most special moment of my life," Hayhurst says.
"I introduced myself and I said I had seen her flyer," she says.
Then, Hayhurst told Knight she had been approved to be her living donor.
"When I said, 'Our surgery is happening January 25th,' she broke down," Hayhurst says.
"I almost fell over," Vonchelle Knight says. "I just hugged her for about an hour. Only someone with a true, open heart can do that for another person."
Hayhurst has researched living kidney donation, and become an advocate, trying to encourage others to follow in her footsteps.
Since the night they met, Hayhurst and Knight have spoken on the phone daily.
She now fully understands what this gift means for Knight.
"And, to know that, by getting my kidney, she'll live an additional 20 years, it was, like, why wouldn't I do this," Hayhurst says. "I have two perfectly healthy kidneys, and I can save someone else's life? Like, why would I not do it?"
It's been a long road for Vonchelle Knight, who says she's clung to her faith to help her through the disappointments.
"I am grateful, thankful, humble, so humble," Knight says.
For a prayer, finally, perfectly, answered.
"He's told me that it's going to be bigger than me and Amanda," Knight says. "He's going to use our story. He is going to use our testimony to help somebody else get a kidney."
Hayhurst and Knight will undergo surgery Friday, January 25, 2018, in side-by-side operating rooms at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
Amanda Hayhurst has begun a Facebook page to help people searching for a kidney donor with those who would like to learn more about the donation process.
To read more about her efforts, visit facebook.com/findyourkidneydonor/.