NEW BRAUNFELS, Tex. — A Texas teacher is giving one of her students the gift of life. The first-grade teacher at Hoffmann Lane Elementary is donating a kidney to a six-year-old student in about a month.
First-grade teacher Lindsey Painter was hired at the school last summer.
“We interviewed her and the interview panel all felt that she would be a great match for our campus, little did we know what kind of match she would be for our campus,” principal Krista Moffat said.
It was in Painter’s classroom where she met six-year-old triplet Matthew Parker and learned about his medical condition.
“He does dialysis three days a week; it’s in San Antonio and we do live here in New Braunfels. He travels three days a week and it’s a full day, so he only goes to school twice a week,” Matthew’s mom, Lisa Parker, explained.
Matthew’s kidneys started failing when he was just three weeks old. For the second time in his short life, Matthew is in need of a donor kidney.
“For Matthew it was really hard because he’s already had a transplant, so it makes him hard to match up,” Lisa said.
Since December, 80 people have been tested to see if they could be a match for Matthew. Painter was first in line.
“I knew right away that I needed to find out if I could help Matthew,” the teacher said.
But there was only a one percent chance that Painter would make the cut. After several rounds of tests, she got her results.
“She came in with this huge smile and said, ‘I can help him, I can do something for Matthew, I am the match,’” Moffat said.
“For it to be an exact match too, it was a miracle,” Lisa said.
Painter is ecstatic that she’s the match.
“So many people came forward trying to help him and I’m the one that gets to do it. I mean I feel very lucky,” she said.
Before telling Matthew’s family, Painter said she did her homework about the risks of the surgery.
“I just realized I could donate my kidney to Matthew and he could live a normal life, and I could continue to live a normal life as well,” Painter said.
After considering it for a few weeks, Painter’s mind was made up.
“He deserves to come to school every day, he deserves to play sports and run and not have the restrictions that he does,” she said.
Painter said one of the hardest decisions was figuring out if she could afford to take off enough time from work to recover. That’s where her colleagues at Hoffmann Lane Elementary came in.
“We immediately said we are going to make this as easy on her as we possibly can,” Moffat said.
“Matthew’s insurance will cover my portion of the surgery and my amazing campus has stepped up to cover the income that I’ll lose while I’m out of work,” Painter said.
As long as Painter and Matthew stay healthy enough for surgery in mid-March, Matthew’s life will go back to normal in just a few months.
“There’s no words that can say anything, because it’s more than ‘thank you.’ It’s deeper,” said Lisa.