'Donate life': Neighbor gives Gwinnett County teen her kidney

A Gwinnett County teen is getting ready to head to the University of North Georgia next year, five years after receiving a kidney from his neighbor.

William Walker is a senior at Mill Creek High School. His neighbor, Mary Jo Ray-Jewett, works for the Gwinnett County School District as an occupational therapist. The pair has remained close over the years.

"It's really a blessing to us, and it's awesome I get to stay close to her," William said.

They share a unique bond that saved Williams' life.

William Walker is off to college with a kidney donated by his neighbor Mary-Jo Ray-Jewett.

We first introduced you to William in 2019. He got diagnosed with a rare kidney disease at just 11 years old. But by thirteen, he had found a perfect donor match from Mary Jo.

"There was no thought process. It was, ‘Whatever you need. If you need me to get tested, let me know,’" Mary Jo said. "I can do that."

On June 28, a date they call their "kidney-versary," William received Mary Jo’s kidney, and stayed positive every step of the way.

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William Walker is off to college with a kidney donated by his neighbor Mary-Jo Ray-Jewett.

"He gave me a basket of things, and one of them was a really, really soft blanket. He told me the blankets at the hospital are scratchy. When I first came over to see him, I told him I've been using it, and his reply was, 'Thanks so much for a kidney. I've been using it,'" Mary Jo said.

Ever since, William has been happy and thriving. After graduating, he said he plans to study forensic anthropology at UNG.

"I'm not his mama, but I feel proud knowing everything that he has overcome and has just shone through all of it," Mary Jo said.

Now, they’re encouraging others who are thinking of donating a kidney.

"Do it. Totally. Donate life," William said. "It's a huge thing."

"I would do it again if I had an extra kidney to give," Mary Jo said.