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My Regent University Professor Saved My Life

Chazley Williams poses with Professor Ryan Murnane the night before the transplant surgery.

Chazley Williams heard about Regent University’s top-ranked online education from a VCU colleague while working as an academic advisor and program coordinator in Richmond, Virginia.  She researched Regent’s education program, and as a person of great faith, she was excited about the idea of learning in an environment that seamlessly integrated cutting-edge academics with unwavering Christian principles.

Chazley, a new homeowner and newlywed who worked full-time—while helping to care for her mother with dementia and diabetes complications—made a personal decision: “I am going to get my master’s in education from Regent University.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

In January 2019, Chazley started her Regent education on her new laptop from a hospital bed. She had visited Urgent Care for a severe sinus infection. When they tried to treat her inflammation with a high dose of prednisone, it sent her to the emergency room. Unfortunately, a high dose of the drug prednisone can negatively impact the kidney functions of diabetics.

Chazley knew kidney disease was a family concern as her grandfather and mother both suffered with it. However, since she was young, she believed that kidney issues were a long way off.

She got better and eventually got back to her normal routine, which now included grad school. Although she noticed her kidney symptoms, such as headaches and weakness were more frequent, she ignored the changes and pressed on.

She was really excited about her summer course, Law & Governance. The title may sound a bit intimidating, but Professor Ryan Murnane had a reputation for making the coursework interesting and even entertaining.

Just when she thought she was on the verge of living her best life, things took a turn.

“My nephrologist informed me that things had worsened and fast,” Chazley recalled. “I had high blood pressure, and my stage 3 diabetes had moved to stage 4. My doctor was talking dialysis.”

Chazley was in denial, hoping to delay or maybe even avoid dialysis altogether.

She let days and days drift by without taking action. 

Eventually, she shared the grim news with her husband, Brandon.

He thought it over calmly, held her close, and assured her, “Baby, together, we’ll figure this out.”

They visited a holistic doctor who suggested Chazley become vegan. The newlyweds embraced the vegan lifestyle for about two months before determining there had to be another way.

In the meantime, Chazley’s condition was getting worse. Her nephrologist told her it was time that she got on the kidney transplant list at VCU/MCV and Duke University Medical Center, a process that would include hours of uncomfortable testing and a donor wait that was likely to take up to five years. 

“I had always been able to juggle more than my share of responsibilities,” Chazley surmised. “But things got real when my doctor told me that I was heading into stage 5 kidney disease.”

This rapid decline was rare for a 30-year-old. Still, it was a reality that Chazley had to face. She determined that working full-time—while caring for her mom and pursuing her graduate degree—was just too much.

She reached out to her Regent University faculty advisor, Dr. Jeff Pittman, and requested a leave from her studies. Dr. Pittman kindly understood and covered her in prayer before ending the call.

Chazley said, “That prayer was so supportive at a time when I really needed it. It meant the world to me.”

She also reached out to Dr. Murnane to make him aware of her circumstances. She only knew him as her online instructor, but she wanted him to know that she had thoroughly enjoyed his group discussions and lectures.

“Professor Murnane shared with me that he had a friend battling kidney failure, and he would definitely be praying for me. And although he really didn’t know me, I could tell he really meant it.”

“I was taught that family business should stay in the family. So, up until that point, I was pretty private about my urgent health needs. But my loved ones were urging me to go on social media to see if I could find a donor. I finally agreed, but none of the people who reached out ever followed through on being tested.”

Despite her superwoman persona, Chazley Willims’ health deteriorated faster than she ever expected.

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

In October 2019, Chazley and her husband were sitting in a Kidney Smart class learning about their treatment options when Chazley suddenly got weak and felt like she would soon pass out.

She was rushed to the hospital and put on emergency dialysis to keep her alive.

Once Chazley was stabilized, and that took days, she was sent home—assigned to self-administer peritoneal dialysis through a port attached to her belly.

Since Chazley didn’t have full use of her left arm and shoulder due to a brachial plexus injury during her birth, her husband and best friend stepped up to administer her treatments—treatments that lasted eight hours a night, seven days a week.

It’s hard for even Chazley to fathom when looking back, but despite these mounting health troubles, she continued to work and undergo daily treatments from October 2019 to November 2020—more than a year.

On faith, Chazley made an intentional decision to remain positive and recommit to continuing her master’s degree at Regent University. In 2020, she contacted her advisor, Dr. Pittman, and asked to get registered again for Dr. Murnane’s Law & Governance class.

Dr. Murnane welcomed her back with a personal email and asked how she was doing. Chazley informed him about her health and her desperate need for a kidney transplant. Dr. Murnane asked her if they could set up a call, and she agreed.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.2 Corinthians 9:8

Dr. Murnane asked, “Chazley, do you have a donor yet?”

Chazley told him, “No, and things aren’t looking good.”

Dr. Murnane told Chazley that he was slated to be a donor for a little boy in need of a kidney, but he had an epiphany. “Since several donors have been confirmed as matches for that little boy, why don’t I let another donor meet his need and give my kidney to you instead?”

Chazley just couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Until this phone call, I was one of many online students to Professor Murnane. We hadn’t even met in person,” Chazley said, still in awe.

She was overwhelmed by his words.

When they ended their conversation, Chazley didn’t know what to think. She’d experienced several instances where people had good intentions but didn’t follow through.

However, a week later, Dr. Murnane called and said, “I’m a match, and everything is a go. The transplant coordinator will soon call you to schedule your final labs and set the date for the surgery.”

“I was experiencing too many emotions to put into words,” Chazley remembered. “This was a life-changing surgery with risks that I had to weigh in just seconds. I mean, my professor was fully willing to save my life, and we’ve never even met face-to-face. I was floored.”

When Chazley got the word that she had passed her second stress test, she realized that her prayers had been answered and this was really going to happen.

On November 9, 2020, the night before the surgery, Chazley and Dr. Murnane finally met.

With their spouses by their sides, they sat down for dinner in the hospital food court.

She remembered being incredibly nervous.

“I mean, I am meeting someone’s wife and saying, ‘Hi! I am the person who is taking your husband’s kidney. Nice to finally meet you.’”

Chazley chuckled as she looked back at how unbelievable the whole thing was.

“Professor Murnane’s wife and I were pretty awkward, as you can probably imagine. But our husbands really hit it off and made the night memorable and full of laughter.”

November 2020 marked the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. If a patient could even get their surgery approved, she or he would have to experience it without a loved one by their side or even in the waiting room. The fact that this was happening at all was extraordinary.

The next day, God showed Himself mighty! All went splendidly, without a single hiccup.

We are told that Dr. Murnane emerged from anesthesia as those who know him best would expect, cracking jokes and making everyone smile.

When Chazley awoke after the surgery, she was in disbelief, trying to determine what was real or possibly dreamed.

“Did this really happen?” she internally debated. “My Lord! This actually happened. I have a new, healthy kidney. I am going to live—and not die!”

In spring 2021, she resumed her studies at Regent University, and in May of the following year, Chazley Williams became a member of the 2022 graduating class, earning her master’s in education with a concentration in student affairs.

“My Regent decision changed my life. Yes! I earned a master’s degree, but on top of all that, my professor gave me a healthy kidney—he gave me life. Who else has that story? Today, I am alive, and without Regent, that wouldn’t be the case. I am forever grateful.”

Today, Chazley advocates for people with disabilities, provides students with tutoring, writes for digital media, loves on her husband, takes care of her mother, and is completely open to whatever God has next.

“If I had gone anywhere else for school, this would not have happened. This was a God thing, and that is my only explanation. He orchestrated my every step to Regent.”

Brandon and Chazley Williams enjoying the blessings of the Lord.

Chazley offered all who read this a final thought: “Figuring God out is crazy and impossible, so stop trying. Just sit back and give Him the chance to amaze you, and He’ll blow your mind!”

In closing, Dr. Murnane has this critical piece to add: “Consider becoming an organ donor. I’d do it again if I had a kidney to spare. The wife of my colleague, Dr. Michael Kirkland, needs a kidney—right now—and you can help. There is nothing like being used by God in someone’s answer to prayer. Nothing!”

PLEASE NOTE: If you are interested in being tested as a potential transplant donor, please contact Dr. Michael Kirkland directly at and he will connect you with their transplant donor coordinators.

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