It's the story about an unlikely pair of women, their stories woven together by a beautiful surprise from one to the other.
For ten years, Donna Burchfield of Druid Hills suffered the effects of renal failure; for five years, she had been waiting on the kidney transplant list. This always-active woman, at the time in her late 50's, was suddenly sapped of her energy.
"Some mornings I would wake up and not be able to put on clothes," Burchfield said. "I was just crawling through concrete. I had calcium problems, I had potassium problems, so really the renal failure affected all parts of my body."
Family members offered their kidneys, but none were a match. With Donna's health and hope deteriorating, a match came from an unlikely source:
Donna's hair salon.
Brittany Reed is 25 years old and works as a color technician at the Carter-Barnes Hair Salon in Buckhead.
"[Donna] had talked about how she was looking for a donor, and how she hadn't had any luck yet," Reed recalled. "I just it upon myself to quietly be tested.
"I didn't even know what my blood type was!"
Not only was Brittany the right blood type, she was the right everything -- a perfect match.
And she did it all without Donna knowing.
She waited until the match was a sure thing. Then, a mutual friend brought Brittany over to Donna's house for dinner.
"It wasn't even ten minutes when [Brittany] had this big smile on her face," Burchfield said, "and she said she had big news."
"I said, 'I want to be your kidney donor,'" Reed said.
"I was crying," recalled Burchfield, "and she was crying, and I was saying to her there were just no words to express how to say, 'Thank you'."
Eight days later, Brittany and Donna were in surgery at Piedmont Hospital. Five months after that, both are physically feeling better than ever.
"You understand there's something so much bigger than yourself," said Burchfield regarding what the experience taught her. "You see what the gift of giving and receiving can do for yourself and other people."
For more on organ donation, check out UNOS.org and donatelife.net.
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