By DaMia Williams, kidney recipient

It is said that to watch a dancer dance, it is to hear our hearts speak. Dancing is my life’s passion. But in the blink of an eye, I went from dancing to dialysis. And I was just 13 years old.

I was a typical teenager when my health drastically changed.  I began to vomit, had little energy and just wasn’t myself. Doctors gave me several diagnoses, but no treatment plan ever quite worked to make me feel better.

After months of not feeling well I was sent for blood work with the hope we would finally get answers. I went for the blood draw before class and mom drove me to dance afterwards.

I am happiest when I dance, and have been twirling since I was three. As I was just beginning class, my mom entered the room – which typically isn’t allowed! She told me my doctor called and I had to go to the hospital immediately. I remember gathering my things, getting in the car and asking my mom, “Did my kidneys fail?” I have no idea why I asked that question. As she drove to the hospital, we held hands and prayed.

I soon learned I was in renal failure – my kidneys were only functioning at 5 percent. Doctors were baffled because I was still attending school and dancing. They thought I was homeschooled based on my kidney function!

After a series of surgeries, I was told I would need to begin dialysis immediately and be listed for a kidney transplant. I remember being very confused and didn’t quite know what everything meant. My best friend’s mom, my Girl Scout troop leader and a few teachers were tested to be living donors, but unfortunately, nothing panned out. My name was added to the national transplant list and I began my wait, along with thousands of other Americans, for a deceased donor.

While it was hard to be hooked up to a machine for so long during dialysis, I got used to it. Although I missed my carefree teenage life of hanging out with my friends.

On May 20, 2017, after more than a year waiting for a donor, I got the call! My mom and I were watching my brother’s basketball tournament and we were on a break between games. My mom received a call, but didn’t answer. When they called back again she answered and I heard her say, “We’re on the way right now.” I was so happy and grateful for the gift I was about to receive, but in shock!

We got to the hospital as quickly as we could and I was prepped for surgery. The last thing I remember is thanking the operating team for doing my surgery before the anesthesia started to work.

Waking up from surgery the next day, I felt better! My doctor said it was the perfect kidney for me.

Six-months after my transplant I received a letter from my donor family. I learned my donor was a dancer and began dancing at the age of three, just like me! Upon receiving the letter, my family wrote back to express our appreciation, love and gratitude.

Because of her generous gift, I was able to return to my passion – dancing. My donor takes every step, twirl and bow with me – won’t you consider registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor?