‘She gave me a new life’: Virginia Tech employee donates kidney to fellow Hokie in need of transplant

BLACKSBURG, Va. – One Virginia Tech employee was able to receive the gift of a lifetime from a fellow colleague, who up until recently, was a complete stranger.

Yang Zhang went into kidney failure in July 2021. After months of dialysis and waiting on the transplant list, his odds were becoming more grim.

Zhang took to social media in hopes of finding a live donor.

“In January 2022, I did a post on Facebook and asked my friends and family to share it,” said Zhang.

That’s where fellow Hokie, Annie Chalmers-Williams enters the story.

“I had a little voice that said this is the person, this is my person. So, I emailed,” said Chalmers-Williams.

After months of tests, it was determined Chalmers-Williams was a perfect match.

In January 2023, she gave her left kidney to Zhang.

“It was just a whole experience of feeling very connected to someone even though we were just getting to know each other. So I just felt really really lucky to be able to do that,” said Chalmers-Williams.

Three months into recovery, both of them are healthy and recovering well.

“She gave me a new life. She gave me a new lease on life. And I will forever be grateful for her sacrifice and generosity.”

And they’re grateful to have become what they call “kidney buddies for life.”

“I mean it’s your kidney now, it’s not my kidney anymore. It has a good home,” said Chalmers-Williams.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.