Georgia woman gets new kidney after best friend started transplant chain

It was a phone call that changed Chelsie Horton's life. After two and a half years of being on the kidney transplant wait list, she found a match. Her best friend helped get her there.

“I told myself that it’s going to happen when God wants it to happen,” Horton said.

The odds of finding a match were low. Only one in 990,000 people have the condition Horton has had since she was 2 years old.

“I tried my best to stay positive and make sure that I was a good role model for my daughter and not get down on myself and be like ‘Nope that’s not going to happen. Not going to find one,’” Horton told FOX 5.

She got the call on May 7. Doctors found her a perfect match. She says she couldn’t have done it without her best friend Katie.

“I was O-negative. She was looking for an O-negative donor. I texted her immediately and was like ‘What do we need to do? How can I get tested? How can I help? What’s the process?'" Katie Birkhead said.


Katie Birkhead (right) and Chelsie Horton (left) are now recovering after going through surgery (Photo: Chelsie Horton)

Horton and Birkhead cheered together at Columbus State University and have been best friends for nine years.

Although Birkhead ended up not being a match, she decided to donate her kidney in a paired exchange program.

Birkhead would donate a kidney to a stranger, and Horton would receive one from someone she didn’t know.

They had their surgeries on the same day at the same time.

“There are a lot of things you do when you don’t have to, but anything you can do to help somebody else you do without question," Birkhead said.

The two have been at home recovering for about two weeks.

Horton has a GoFundMe page for her medical expenses. She recommends visiting and to learn more about donating organs while still living.