Teaching Profession

Hero Teacher Arranges to Donate Kidney to Sick Student

By Elisha McNeil — March 11, 2016 2 min read
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A Wisconsin elementary school teacher is planning to donate a kidney to one of her students—and the emotional moment she announced the news to the family was caught on camera by her principal.

Jodi Schmidt, a 1st grade teacher at Oakfield Elementary School in Oakfield, Wisc., said her decision hit her so hard while she was driving that she had to pull over and call her husband.

“It truly just came to me after I did a lot of thinking and praying,” Schmidt said, according to 12 News KPNX. “I told him, ‘Rich, I want to give a student one of my kidneys.’”

Eight-year-old Natasha Fuller was born with chronic kidney disease and has been depending on dialysis three times a week to stay alive. She is currently living with grandparents in order to receive specialized care at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.

For the past few years, she has developed multiple infections that knock her off the kidney transplant wait-list, her grandparents said. Now that she has end stage renal failure, doctors said she needs a transplant to keep living, according to the KPNX report.

Schmidt started the process of medical testing in December. After recently confirming that she was a match, she and Oakfield Elementary Principal Becky Doyle invited the child’s grandmother, Chris Burleton, into the school office to announce the news in a special way.

“Jodi is extremely passionate, full of life and energy, and does everything 150 percent,” Doyle told KPNX. “She told me that she knows she is here to do more. She is always looking for ways to serve others.”

In the video, Schmidt tells Burleton that she has a special gift to show appreciation for how hard she works. Burleton can then be seen opening a pink gift box and removing tissue paper to reveal a card with the message “It’s a match,” before bursting into tears. She said she thought she was called into the school because the child was misbehaving.

“I just lost it,” Burleton reportedly said. “You could never tell this little girl has three tubes in her, she doesn’t let it faze her. She is happy and sassy, and she just wants to lead a normal life, and do things like go swimming.”

After her latest infection clears up, Natasha’s family and Schmidt are hoping to schedule the surgery for a transplant within a month, WISN 12 News reports.

“I have had some really good days in my life, and that was probably one of the best,” Schmidt said of watching Burleton’s reaction to the surprise. “I think that life takes us on very different paths, and I now have no doubt I was brought to Oakfield for a reason.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.