She gave one brother a kidney, the other her heart.
Hayley Milks, 41, said she was scrolling through Instagram during a sleepless night amid a bruising divorce when she happened to see a post from a Miami woman at the end of her rope.
“I’ve had enough,” it began.
“David is my fiancé. He received a kidney and pancreas transplant in 2012 due to damage caused by his type 1 diabetes. However, three years ago, his body began to reject his new kidney. Since then, he’s been receiving dialysis three days a week, each time feeling weaker and more affected … If ANYONE is willing to be a live donor, please message me.”
Despite her own travails at the time, Milks said the note touched her in way she didn’t expect and spurred her to act.
“They were such a young couple,” she told The Post.
“I wanted to do something.”
She reached out to David Montoto and his wife Melissa to signal her willingness to become a donor.
Suddenly offered a lifeline, the couple invited her out for dinner, and profusely thanked her for even considering the procedure.
While they shared the same blood type, Milks still had to pass a battery of tests to ensure a safe match.
Milks recalled the moment she told Melissa she had been medically cleared to become their donor.
“There was silence on the other end of the phone,’ she told The Post.
“Then she just started crying.”
A mother of four at the time, the yoga instructor sold her thriving studio in May 2019 and began the rigorous preparations required to part with a vital organ.
She was given regular iron infusions to address her pre-existing anemia and filled dozens of vials of blood for seemingly endless testing.
The physical toll of the kidney donation, she said, made her childbirths seem routine.
After the operation, Milks was still numbed by morphine when a tall man gingerly entered her hospital room.
An endless stream of David’s relatives had already entered and exited Milks room to offer their gratitude and smile down at her.
William Montoto, 40, was the final person to come in.
Milks struggled to adjust herself in her bed, prompting the 6 foot 5 inch visitor to rush to offer his help. The pair soon began talking, each realizing that they were both single parents who had gone through painful divorces.
Montoto, who worked as a banquet manager at the Four Seasons at the time, said he was overcome not only by Milks’ selfless act, but by her beauty.
“Everything just felt like it faded away when we started talking,” he said.
“I didn’t want to leave her side.”
As he chatted with Milks, Montoto’s sister reminded him to check in on his brother, who was still in the throes of recovery in a nearby room.
After visiting with his sibling, his mind wandered back to Milks.
“I needed some excuse to go back to her room,” he said.
“I opened her door and asked if they validated parking at the hospital. That’s what I came up with,” he recalled with a laugh.
Despite her condition, Milks was able to muster a saucy rejoinder.
“How the f— should I know?” she said. “I just gave a kidney.”
“There was so much common ground,” she said of their fateful first meeting.
“It all felt very organic from the start.”
While they continued to speak in the days after her discharge, William, who has three kids of his own, said he had to make his intentions clear before being relegated to the friend zone.
Milks commented at one point that she felt like she had been absorbed into David’s sprawling Cuban family, complete with new brothers and sisters.
“I hope you don’t see me as a brother,” William messaged her.
They’ve been together ever since.
But while their relationship flourished, fresh challenges emerged.
William was furloughed from his job during the pandemic and was suddenly unsure how he would support their blended family of seven kids.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said.
“But you just do what you have to do at a time like that.”
He would eventually get a job with UPS and was later recruited by Fedex. The position would compel him to move to Tampa.
Milks and her children made the move with him to keep their clan intact.
Eventually, she began a successful jewelry business, selling her pieces at local events.
Inspired by her entrepreneurial drive, Montoto began a smoothie company and the pair now combine their unique businesses in a brick and mortar store in Plant City named CocoMo’s.
The couple got engaged in 2022 and were married at a local courthouse by the following spring.
An official wedding celebration is planned for next summer.
In losing an organ, Milks said, she found a new life.