My Winthrop Experience

Heyward Murray '08, 10
Residence: Charleston, South Carolina
Degree: Elementary education
Occupation: Third-grade teacher

Moved by Christian teachings to help one another, third-grade teacher Heyward Murray '08, '10 donated one of her two kidneys to a man she did not know.

She sacrificed one of her organs because of a heartfelt appeal she saw a few years ago on Facebook. "A woman was practically begging for someone to donate a kidney to her husband. It broke my heart," said Murray, a Charleston County resident. "I thought, 'If I have something someone else needs that I don't necessarily need, why wouldn't I give it away?' I talked with my dad and decided to give it more thought."

A few years later, she saw another Facebook post from a friend whose friend needed a kidney. "I felt God was telling me this was the time to donate. I called the transplant department at the Medical University of South Carolina and after talking with the coordinator, decided I would begin the process in January so I could donate in June after school got out," Murray said. "That way I wouldn't miss any school and would have the summer to recover."

She started her blood work at the first part of 2017 and then over spring break, went through three days of tests and consultations.

"I talked with doctors, did lots of blood work, GFR scan, EKG, chest x-ray, ultra sounds, and a 3D CT scan. I had consultations with the surgeon, nephrologist, dietitian, social worker and a living donor advocate," she recalled.

Three days before her June 8 surgery, she had more pre-op tests: blood work, vital signs, weight check, EKG, chest X-ray and anesthesia evaluation.

Throughout the process, her family was super supportive. "I think I would have done it without their support, but it has meant so much to me," said Murray, who earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in reading at Winthrop, where she remembers she learned to be a leader, learner and a better Christian.

A day after surgery, Murray met the man who received her kidney. "He was a 41-year-old man who had been doing intense dialysis every day," she said. "He had recently told his son he was ready to give up. He was very emotional telling me his story. His mom, the nurses, he and I were all in tears.
"They said I was an angel, but I told them it was all God. He gave me the heart to see the need and the strength and peace to move forward through the process," Murray said.

She told him that she considered him her brother because God calls all Christians brothers and sisters. "I thought of how I would give my kidney to my sisters or parents without a second thought, and I considered him my brother. That's how God wants us to live our lives. Loving others like He loves them," Murray said. The recipient agreed that she would be a part of him forever, and they would stay in contact.

"My hope is that my story inspires people to know God, spread His love, and be who He created them to be."

Last Updated By JL: 8/19/2017