Fresno athlete donates kidney to save elementary school classmate's dad

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno State alumna is making a big difference in the lives of others.

Sarah Hawkins decided to donate a kidney after seeing a friend's Facebook post in April 2018. Now she's encouraging others to do the same.

"The post said that Terry had been on dialysis for quite a while and they were looking for anyone that may have had a connection to a kidney donor center," she says.

Terry Gillian is the father of Sarah's elementary school classmate.

Sarah said she came up with a plan right away.

Born and raised in Fresno, Sarah was eager to help her classmate and his family.

She was a match but the process took nearly a year.

Sarah and Terry underwent successful surgery in 2019 - and quickly became fast friends.

"Terry came visited me in my hospital bed even before I was up and moving around," she says.

Adds Terry:
"She is my family - Sarah is a precious precious lady."

It wasn't long before Sarah was up on her feet again, eager to share her message.

An athlete herself, she wants to encourage other athletes to consider being donors.

"Going into 2019 I had said it was going to be my year of halves - I was going to do a half-marathon, swim a half-century bike, ride a half-marathon, and a half-iron man. And then the chance to donate a kidney came up and I was like perfect - I'm just going to do it with half the kidneys," she says.

No surprise - she did.

As for Terry, he says he's enjoying retirement and time with his grandkids.

"She has such a great smile, you just look at her and know she's just such a gentle kind person," he says.

Says Sarah:
"There's a lot of hurt and pain in our world right now and I can't fix all of it but this is something I could do."

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