Nouvel football moms will forever have a bond as one donates her liver to the other

Sue Joynt and Celia Sullivan will forever have a bond as Joynt donates part of her liver to her friend.

Most Friday nights, the Nouvel football family is at the field cheering on the Panthers in battle.

But last Friday night, they were at Holy Spirit church praying for two Panther moms who have a much bigger fight on their hands.

Celia Sullivan is the mother of running back Ryan Sullivan. Seventeen years ago when she was pregnant, Celia developed an autoimmune disease in which her liver starts attacking itself.

"I knew I had this for years, but I was still OK," Sullivan said. "Then four years ago, I developed problems and they put me on the liver transplant list."

Since then, there have been no matches in Sullivan's family or elsewhere and her health has deteriorated. But, during a Nouvel football tailgate this season, a hail mary appeared.

"I always knew she was sick, but never to the extent of how bad," Sue Joynt, mother Nouvel wide receiver Christopher Joynt, said. "I said is there something I can do? Can I get tested? I have O-negative blood, I'm sure I can match you."

"My first thought was, that's really nice, but that's too much for me to ask you to do," Sullivan said.

Joynt went through with the testing anyway this past fall and found she was a perfect match.

"I just thought it was something I needed to do," Joynt said. "I didn't want to make a big deal about it."

"When she told me she got tested, I said 'Oh my God is this really happening?'" Sullivan said.

But it is a very big deal, especially to the two families, all of whom, were in support.

"I was amazed," Christopher Joynt, Sue's son, said. "Right away I said 'that was awesome, I cant believe you would even do this.'"

"It takes a ton of courage to put your own life at risk for someone else," Ryan Sullivan, Celia's son, said.

Monday morning these two women go in for surgery, Sue to donate part of her liver to her friend. Celia, to accept the greatest of gifts, from someone she now calls her Guardian Angel.

"I cant thank her enough, how can you thank someone?" Sullivan said. "She's giving me the chance to see my son graduate, to see my daughter get married, to see grandchildren."

It's football that brought these two women and their families together, but there's a much bigger victory on the horizon.

"To me, she'll always be a sister," Sullivan said through tears, "a part of her will always be with me."

Both women made it out of surgery Monday with no complications and are recovering. Joynt is expected to return to work around the first of the year. Sullivan has a a greater risk of infection, and must stay near the hospital and away from crowds of people for three months.