Selflessly donating one of her kidneys in March 2021 has proven to be a valuable lesson for Natalie Nill (’11) in the biblical teaching of loving one’s neighbor — a lesson she carries throughout every aspect of her life, including her engineering career at Boeing Co.
Nill’s donation story began in September 2019 when she read a story about a mother of three whose only kidney was failing. “The story stuck out to me partly because the mom was my younger sister’s age and partly because it was a God thing,” Nill said. She kept praying about it, and she eventually signed up for testing. The lengthy process took her to San Francisco in January 2020, and she was approved a month later. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put Nill’s donation on hold for an entire year. During her extended wait, Nill learned the mother she intended to donate her kidney to had already received the help she needed, but Nill still felt called to donate. She decided to do an undirected donation, which meant her kidney would go to the first person who needed it.
Nill finally donated her kidney in March 2021 to an anonymous woman in California. Nill said the experience and the recovery she had to go through was all worth it because of how much she was able to change another person’s life with just one decision. “I was back to 100% life as normal within two months, and the person who received my donation has a new lease on life,” Nill said.
Nill’s time at Harding heavily influenced her decision. Nill donated blood for the first time while a student at Harding and is now a regular donor. As a student, she was inspired by many of her professors and peers to be selfless and compassionate. “Harding was a time in my life where my faith grew, where I saw a Christian faith integrated into professionals’ daily lives, and where I had teachers who set an example for me by going out of their way to look out for me,” Nill said. “These are themes that have continued to develop in my life over the years.”
A founding member of Harding’s chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Nill gained helpful skills in leadership and management. She also credits Harding for helping her think of others within her career. Nill has worked at Boeing Co. since 2011 and has received many incredible opportunities such as working as a mechanical systems engineer on U.S. Air Force planes.
Reflecting on her life thus far — her career, health, family and friends — Nill is thankful for it all and gives God all the glory. Nill cited the biblical command of looking out for the alien, orphan, widow and any other marginalized communities who may need help for why she gives back. “For me, [donating my kidney] was one big way I could love my neighbor,” Nill said. “And now, as I’m six months post-donation, my challenge is remembering that I can also love my neighbor in the small, everyday things.”
— Luke Humphrey