Christine Royles was diagnosed with lupus at 23 years old

By Alex Heigl
Updated April 01, 2015 03:50 PM

The message was painted in bright yellow. “Looking for someone to donate me their kidney. Must have type O blood,” it read, and then listed a phone number.

“Oh, my God, that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever read,” Ashley Dall-Leighton said she remarked to her husband Josh as the couple drove past the car.

“Did you get the number?” Josh responded. “Text her right now.”

Josh Dall-Leighton, a 30-year-old corrections officer from Windham, Maine, told the Portland Press Herald, “I think it was the fact that I have three kids of my own, and that really resonated with me.”

Christine Royles, the woman behind the sign, is from South Portland. Royles was diagnosed with lupus in December 2013, and then a few months later, she was informed she had a second autoimmune disease, ANCA vasculitis. Just 23 years old, she found herself on the list of over 100,000 people in the United States who need kidney transplants.

“I saw a story about this old man in a different state who was asking for a kidney for his wife,” Royles told the Press Herald. “He stood on the side of the road with a sign.” She decided to try the same thing, but with her car. “My fiancé thought it was kind of weird,” she says.

Royles said she started crying when Leighton texted her “because, oh, my God, I can’t believe he’s gonna do this for me.”

Ashley, for her part, was worried at first but supported her husband. “[Josh] just told me all along that this is what he needs to do, and if this is what he needs to do, then I support him 100 percent,” she said.

Royles and the Dall-Leightons met for the first time Tuesday when Royles visited the couple at their home with her 2-year-old son, Talan. She told Josh it was hard to find the words to thank him; he responded, “I just want you to get better. I just want to hear that donating helped you.”

Final testing on Josh’s compatibility should be done in a few months, and the transplant surgery is currently scheduled for mid-May. Josh will be out of work, on unpaid leave, for about a month. Royles is attempting to raise money for him to cover his family’s losses during that time.

“I’m shocked that someone is going to do this for me,” Royles said. “The fact that someone with a young family is going to take time off work to help some random person is unbelievable to me.”