CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A Cherokee County educator says the process of donating a kidney to a young girl has been one of the most spiritual experiences of her life.
The school district posted the inspirational story about Joy Silk, who serves as CCSD’s Supervisor of Digital Learning, on their website.
Late last year, Silk stuck around after attending a Zumba class to chat with Alyson Counts, who teaches at Indian Knoll Elementary School.
Alyson asked about Joy’s mother, a retired CCSD teacher who recently donated her kidney to someone in need – someone who was a stranger to her before the donation.
“We were just chatting about my mother and how her recovery was going,” Joy said. “Alyson mentioned that her niece, Maggie, would be needing a kidney transplant in a couple of years, but that no one in their family was a match. I casually asked what her blood type was, and, once Alyson told me, I told her that was also my blood type, and to keep me in mind when the time came – I would be happy to see if I was a match.”
And sure enough a few months later, Alyson told Joy that Maggie, who is 14 years old, needed a transplant sooner that expected.
After getting tested, Emory doctors determined that Joy was a perfect match for Maggie.
“The whole process has been the most humbling, spiritual experience of my life,” said Joy, who is married and has two children who attend Creekview HS. “I have gone through several tests and screenings and have been a perfect match each step of the way. I am honored that God has allowed for me to be able to help this precious family. I have been blessed with healthy children and cannot imagine what it must be like for Maggie’s parents, to not only face this with Maggie, but to also experience the same heartache of such an awful disease and a kidney transplant with Maggie’s older sister, Lily.”
Joy and Maggie are now getting prepared for surgery.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he wasn’t surprised to hear about Joy’s plans to help Maggie.
“I know the attitude, determination, positivity and servant’s heart that Joy brings to the workplace and that she gives the same of herself in everything she does,” he said.
Joy is a past CCSD Teacher of the Year and, last year, Dr. Hightower named her as the recipient of one of his top annual honors – the Game Changer Awards, which are presented to four individuals each year for their role in instructional excellence. She earned the honor for the Instructional Support category, which recognizes someone who makes a positive impact in instructional support for students, parents, and their fellow professionals and who is both a professional educator and an inspiration to others.
“It’s very heartwarming to see our CCSD family come together and support one another,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that Joy and her parents are known for their great care for their community. “My thoughts and prayers are with Maggie and Joy, and I wish them the best in their recovery. We all can’t wait to see Joy back in the office and Maggie back at Cherokee with her friends, enjoying everything that a 14-year-old should enjoy!”
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