ATL staffer’s determination inspires family, nation

Dawn Daniels Muhammad was surprised at the media attention surrounding her sacrifice to her father, Lucious Daniels.


By Anika Robertson
Senior Editor/Assistant Public Relations Manager

A will to heal her ailing father led ATL’s Dawn Daniels Muhammad on a health journey to lose more than 55 pounds. Meanwhile, her altruistic efforts have garnered worldwide attention.

Muhammad’s primary goal was to donate her kidney to her father, Lucious Daniels, who suffers from stage 4 kidney disease.

“My dad is the heart and soul of our family,” said Muhammad, a 19-year veteran of the Department of Aviation. “The past 16 months have helped prepare me for this moment.”

The South Carolina native knew poor diet and health habits persisted in her tight-knit family. Over the years, Muhammad watched as relatives developed Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

“My sister and I said a long time ago, ‘We’ve got to break the cycle,’ the married mother of two said. But because of her weight struggles, she feared she could ultimately succumb to those conditions.

According to Muhammad, her father developed Type 2 diabetes in 1980. In 2001, with a change in his diet and weight, Daniels was able to come off insulin. After years of good health, a back injury in 2015 prompted a steroid shot, “which shot his sugar level through the roof.”

Once he became insulin-dependent again at age 71, doctors told Daniels that he’d developed the life-threatening condition.

“It was a shock,” Muhammad recalled.

While Muhammad learned her blood type was a match, she was prevented from being a donor due to her weight. At 220 pounds, she was told her BMI was just too high.

In July 2016, Daniels began biweekly dialysis sessions critical to his survival. Later that year, Muhammad witnessed a serious decline in her dad’s energy level and wanted to do whatever was necessary to help.

The senior programmer analyst began solo workouts.  Three weeks later, she reached out to a friend who had lost more than 150 pounds with diet and exercise and was now a personal trainer.

On New Year’s Eve, Muhammad began working out with Tahara (@watchteework), followed a low-carb diet and avoided ginger ale, her choice beverage.

Rigorous cardio, core workouts and monthly measurements kept Muhammad on track, but her true inspiration remained a secret.

“I knew what my focus was … I’ve got to see if I can help my father,” Muhammad explained of her choice to become a living donor. After nearly a year, she’d lost 40 pounds.

“I didn’t share it, I didn’t really want anyone to know. I wanted that journey to be between me and God.”

In April 2018, during a conversation with her father, Muhammad recalled hearing a voice say, “It’s time.”

That’s when she finally revealed her intention to donate her kidney. Initially shocked, her father would quickly embrace the decision.

She learned on July 2 that she was a perfect match. A week later, Muhammad gathered her entire family to deliver the news in a heartfelt poem to her father. In response, they hugged, cried and celebrated.

Muhammad’s sister posted a message on Facebook earlier this month that reached Deidre Dukes of Fox 5 Atlanta, who then interviewed the would-be-donor for a segment that aired Aug. 20. The story exploded online. On Aug. 30, the pair interviewed live on “Good Morning America,” and numerous media outlets shared the original Fox 5 feature, including,, ABC and London-based DailyMail.

With tens of thousands of views from the initial feature, Muhammad said, “I never thought that it would get the attention that it’s received.”

She looks forward to seeing her dad returning to his favorite pastime: playing golf. GMA host Michael Strahan even invited Daniels for a round once he’s recovered.

“Continuing this lifestyle is so important,” Muhammad explained, “Because I know that moving forward, it’s going to be very important to eat healthy and exercise so I won’t have issues later on in life.”

With transplant surgeries for father and daughter set for Aug. 31, Muhammad’s message behind her selfless act remains clear.

“We can help our family and friends if we are in a better health situation.”