Kayla Myles had no idea how her life would change after first meeting her now-fiancé Jacob Thomason.
On Wednesday, the two underwent surgery in order for Thomason to donate his kidney to Myles, who has suffered from kidney failure for several years.
The two met refereeing local basketball games. Thomason learned of Myles' illness fairly quickly after the two began dating, almost by accident, she said, after he inquired about her Facebook post about a recent doctor's visit.
Though she had been battling the illness for several years, a result of her lupus diagnoses, Myles said the illness was not something most people knew about her.
"It was hard but I tried to stay positive," she said. "Really, basketball keeps me sane-minded and hides my symptoms a little bit. It's like calling keeps me positive."
Myles told Thomason several family members had undergone the testing to donate, but none were a match. Despite their short time dating, Thomason immediately volunteered to undergo the testing.
"We fell in love. I felt compelled. That's what I needed to do," he said. "I was not second-guessing wanting to do it. It was from the heart."
Though she felt grateful and blessed at his offer, Myles said, "Honestly, I thought he was crazy." Equally skeptical that he would be a match or that the timing was right, she said, "I told him he didn't have to do it. The way I felt about him would never change. But he was adamant."
Thomason proceeded with the multiple rounds of testing involved to determine if he would be an ideal transplant match. Throughout the process he remained steady and positive about his intentions to donate.
"I gave him plenty of opportunities. ‘If you want to run, run now,' I said. But he always stood by me," Myles said. "I have three kids and I have this. ‘If you want to run, run now,'" she emphasized.
Thomason stayed true to his word all the way to their joint surgeries Wednesday at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans for the transplant.
Thomason's mother, Kay Aguillard, told the American Press late Wednesday afternoon that the surgeries were successful and that both were doing well and resting comfortably.
"Their first words when they came out were how was Jake or how was Kayla," Aguillard said.
Scott Caldwell, Grand Lake High School basketball coach, said he was not surprised to learn of Thomason's devotion to Myles.
"For us and my team, every time we get him he's a real nice guy to be around."
In honor of Thomason's professionalism and sacrifice, Caldwell said he is joining the officiating and basketball community to financially support the couple. Local referees have already committed to donating one night of work to the family during their recovery.
Grand Lake High School plans to hold a split-the-pot raffle at Friday's game against Hamilton Christian to support Myles and Thomason, who will be out of work four to six weeks and two to three months, respectively. Proceeds will go toward the couple's medical and living expenses during recovery.
A Go Fund Me has also been established to support the family. Visit www.gofundme.com and search "Jacob P Thomason" for more information.