- May 27, 2015
It was 2 a.m. in their Lakewood Ranch townhome, and Nikki Williams could hear her mom, Kim Williams, crying.
Kim Williams' kidneys had been failing for years, and her third-floor bedroom didn't make it easy for her to be mobile.
"Her legs weren't working," Nikki Williams said of that 2016 night. "I told her to please wake me up if she needed anything."
After a lifetime of being stubborn, Kim Williams wasn't about to wake up her daughter. Instead, she crawled on her hands and knees to the first floor to check her blood sugar. She was laying on the floor when Nikki Williams found her.
"Are you crazy?" Nikki Williams asked her.
Nikki Williams, who is now 26, said her mom was going downstairs to get a Jolly Rancher.
The two started to argue about whether it was actually a Jolly Rancher or not.
"Stubborn," Nikki Williams said.
That stubbornness obviously was passed to her daughter, and Kim Williams might be alive because of it.
It was two days before Christmas a year ago when Nikki Williams gave her mom a kidney at Tampa General Hospital. For them, it was their Christmas miracle.
At the time, Kim Williams thought she was out of options. Those who had tested to see if she could accept their kidney were all turned down. Headed for dialysis with only 10% kidney capacity, she had been told she had about five years to live.
Then Nikki Williams got stubborn.
Told her family history would make her a poor candidate to be a kidney donor, Nikki Williams spent her days searching for someone who could be a donor. Kim Williams' husband, Mark, couldn't be a donor. Others who tested were all negative matches.
When that search proved fruitless, she decided she would go to Tampa General to be tested in October, 2020, just in case the medical opinions were wrong.
A few days later, the two were riding in the car together when Nikki Williams received the call from the hospital. She was approved.
"I had so many feelings," Kim Williams said. "I didn't want her to do it. She's my daughter, and I would rather die."
The two had a loving argument, and Nikki Williams had the final word.
"I am doing this and you don't have anything to say about it," Nikki Williams said. "I am getting married in July and I want you at my wedding. It is my choice, and I want my mom back."
Nikki Williams had seen what failing kidneys had done to her mom, who was diagnosed 22 years ago. Always a ball of energy, Kim Williams had managed her health well until 2016 when her failing kidneys changed her life. She was tired all the time and she would sit on the couch for long periods of time.
"She tried to hide (her pain)," Nikki Williams said. "But she couldn't hide everything. She would fall asleep during the day ... that's not my mom."
Even so, Kim Williams didn't want to jeopardize her daughter's health. She went to her own mother, Darlene Zdenek, for advice.
"Would you do this for me?" Zdenek asked. "There's your answer."
The two had their surgery on Dec. 23, 2020 and everything went well. Then on Christmas Eve, Nikki Williams was fully awake.
Because of COVID-19 precautions, she was not allowed to see her mother. She got stubborn.
"I begged them to wheel me down to her room," Nikki Williams said.
The nurses finally gave in. They only talked for a few minutes, but it was enough.
"My faith got me through this," said Kim Williams, who now lives in Indigo. "I would have preferred not to be in the hospital on Christmas, but I had prayed a long time for a kidney. God has a plan."
A year later, they both are healthy.
Nikki Williams, who now lives in Harmony, is a kindergarten teacher at Rowlett Academy. She said she lost 40 pounds since the surgery.
"I am healthier now, and I am more conscious of my health and what I put into my body," Nikki Williams said. "I am more active. I barely drank water before. Now I drink 72 to 90 ounces a day."
Kim Williams, who from 2008-2019 was the manager at Arts A Blaze at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, has her energy back and her daughter said she has to keep running to keep up with her.
"It has been incredible, a whole new lease on life," Kim Williams said.
Kim Williams' kidneys are functioning at 72% while Nikki Williams kidneys are functioning at 86%.
They decided they wanted to give back to those who are undergoing dialysis or waiting for a donor. They started the Blanket Donations for Dialysis Patients Sarasota Bradenton on Facebook. The page gives people the option of buying a blanket for those in dialysis.
"I polled my support group," Kim Williams said. "I asked what kind of donation would be best. The No. 1 think was blankets. So let's get blankets. We started the Facebook page in November."
Once again, the mother and daughter are working together, perhaps made possible by Nikki Williams' stubbornness.
"I tell her," Nikki Williams said. "You made me. I gave you a piece back."