Terrell Potter almost dropped his cellphone as he listened to what his daughter, April, was saying. “Dad, you won’t believe it — I got you a kidney!” she blurted excitedly.
Terrell’s kidney function had been slowly deteriorating for years. By the fall of 2019, it had dropped to just 5 percent and dialysis was no longer helping. He desperately needed a transplant, but his doctor had warned the retired Phil Campbell, Alabama, police officer that it could take at least seven years to find a donor match.
Though several family members and friends had stepped up and gotten tested as potential donors, no one had matched. Terrell had tried to stay positive, but April couldn’t bear the thought of losing her dad. And so she’d made an impassioned plea on Facebook.
My father needs a kidney, she’d shared, telling of her father’s 44 years of service and how he was now in need of help himself. He can’t live without it.
A Second Chance
Just a few miles away in Russellville, Alabama, on that November night, 40-year-old Jocelynn James Edmonds was scrolling through Facebook when she came across April’s post. Though they weren’t friends, she had gone to school with April and also knew Terrell. In fact, he had arrested her several times.
In 2006, Jocelynn had developed health issues, and after undergoing a half dozen surgeries and, finally, a hysterectomy, she developed an addiction to pain medications. Eventually, she’d become so dependent that she turned to the streets for drugs and did things she wasn’t proud of to pay for them, including burglary. Between 2007 and 2012, she’d been arrested a dozen times.
But when she’d ended up on the county’s “Most Wanted” list and saw her mug shot on TV, something shifted inside Jocelynn. I don’t want to live like this anymore, she told herself. I need to change — for my kids and for myself. Jocelynn had turned herself in and, after a stint in prison and then rehab, the mother of two started a new life. Deeply grateful for her second chance, Jocelynn had felt a calling to help other people reclaim their lives and launched The Place of Grace Center (PlaceOfGraceCenter.com). And since 2013, she’s helped almost 1,000 women and men get the help they need.
Now, as she read April’s post, she felt a powerful nudge on her heart. There’s a big difference between offering a helping hand and donating a kidney, she told God. But Jocelynn remembered Terrell and felt that he’d truly cared for her. And she couldn’t deny the feeling that God was saying helping him was the right thing to do — and so, she phoned April.
“I have your dad’s kidney,” Jocelynn knew, even though she hadn’t been tested yet.
April was stunned and called her father. “I think I have a donor for you — and you won’t believe who it is!”
An Incredible Gift
Terrell was shocked. “If you gave me a list of 100 people, I would not have thought Jocelynn,” he said. But when he called to thank her, Jocelynn assured him that she was perfectly serious. “God restored me. To be able to try to extend your life is rewarding,” she told him tearfully.
Just as amazing as her certainty and willingness to donate, blood work proved Jocelynn to be a perfect match. In fact, doctors said they’d never had a better match for a kidney transplant. Plus, the operation went off without a hitch, and her kidney began functioning in Terrell immediately.
Today, Terrell is healthy and considers Jocelynn another daughter. They talk on the phone every day, and Jocelynn stops by his house for a cup of coffee and chat two or three times a week.
“A part of her is in me. It’s created a bond that will go on forever,” Terrell says. “She’s proof that we shouldn’t throw people away. When people make mistakes, we often give up on them. But there’s good in people. Jocelynn transformed her life, and look how many people she’s helped.”
Jocelynn is grateful to have been able to help and cherishes her second chance. “Life is precious,” she says. “No matter what, things can always turn around. Never give up — there is always hope!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.