Kidney donor hears God, saves life

Published 3:18 pm Friday, March 23, 2018


When God speaks, hope wins.

Such is the testimony of Clanton resident Amy Edwards Wilson, 40, who celebrated one year as a kidney recipient on March 22.

Her story begins almost three years ago on April 24 — her wedding night.

She was very sick.

Medical tests after a full week of bedridden misery and two excruciating cramping episodes after the honeymoon would reveal that Wilson had suffered two heart attacks — painful ramifications from a lifetime with Type I Diabetes.

A necessary open-heart surgery soon followed and reeled Wilson into kidney failure.

“A week later, I had a triple bypass where I almost died after surgery from blood loss and had to have a blood transfusion,” Wilson said.

And then the desperate scramble for a perfect kidney match ensued.

“Several people, including my mom, my brother and my oldest son tried to donate,” she said, “but we were told that due to the blood transfusions my antibodies were so high that the likelihood of me ever finding a match was almost zero.”

Her family was devastated — especially Wilson’s mother, who felt helpless in saving her child.

“[We] thought it was the end,” Wilson said.

Even strangers tested for a match, but to no avail.

Valentine’s Day of 2017 issued an operation to combat renal failure. On her way to the hospital with her husband Jeremy and her mother, Wilson was waging her own war.

Two years had yielded no results. She was sick, and she was tired — and she felt the same of the pernicious bad news reports of even more non-matches.

“I had put it in my head that I’m going to die from this, and there’s no hope,” Wilson said.

In the car, she warded off despair with stubborn fingertips, ignoring the calls that ambushed her cell phone.

They were from her sister-in-law, Windy Gail Brewer, a woman she barely knew.

“I looked at Jeremy, and I said, ‘I can’t deal with this this morning; I can’t hear another rejection. I know what this is,’” Wilson said.

Two weeks prior, Brewer had called Wilson with a startling message.

“Wendy called me one night and told me that she was led by God to be tested and to get ready because God had already revealed to her that she was a match,” Wilson recalled, explaining how stubborn Brewer had been.

She remembered Brewer’s words: “I know that I don’t know you that well, and I’ve never talked to you that much, but God has just put it on my heart that this is something I have to do.”

“I didn’t understand it,” Wilson said.

Now Brewer was calling again, and Wilson could not handle another dose of discouragement. Not today.

She hit “ignore.”

Brewer fired back with a text: “I need to talk with you ASAP. Please call me.”

Wilson called her.

“Good news! I told you that I was a match,” Brewer’s voice announced from the phone speakers. “They called this morning and said that I was a match for you.”

The news was met with an emotional response from each of the car occupants.

“My mom climbed over the back seat and the front seat to my lap, and we all were crying,” she said. “So that was a pretty big day. That was my valentine.”

March 22, 2017, became the day that “the transplant that saved my life” took place, Wilson said.

“I was so weak and sickly before the transplant that I know I wouldn’t have survived much longer if not for God sending Wendy into our lives,” she said.

Now one year later, Wilson is alive and well, and her friendship with Brewer is sturdy, rooted in the immense sacrifice of a shared kidney.

“Now, we’re really close,” Wilson said, adding that both she and Brewer have undergone medications and steroids to help their bodies adjust.

Diets have been tweaked, and the two women regularly attend Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness classes together.

It has not been an easy recovery year, and Wilson said her body began rejecting Brewer’s kidney in November. Infusions of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) knocked her off her feet for several months, but her energy is making a comeback.

“I could barely walk up until about four weeks ago,” she said. “And now I’ve bounced back.”

It has been a belligerent journey, but Wilson said she is “getting back” to being herself once more. She thanks her family, particularly her husband Jeremy, for their faithful assistance.

“I could not have asked for a better support person,” she said.

Wilson thanks her mother Joyce Minor and Brewer’s mother Linda Gorum, as well as her four children Blake Shirah, Ben Shirah, Jacob Wilson and Mollie Wilson, for their support.

“Now I hope that maybe I can watch my kids get married and all of them graduate, and hopefully be around for grandkids one day,” Wilson said.

Hope has been restored.

Wilson said she has dubbed Brewer her “angel”.

“I’m nothing special; I’m just me,” has been Brewer’s speedy response.

“She’s an absolute angel,” Wilson said. “A Godsend!”