Preschool Teacher Donates Kidney To Her 5-Year-Old Student

There are some teachers who simply go above and beyond for their students. Whether that be sacrificing their precious free time to volunteer with after-school programs, or perhaps even scheduling one-on-one lessons with children struggling with a subject, teachers are the unsung heroes of our country who deserve more recognition for their tireless efforts.

One preschool teacher from Missouri has certainly gone way beyond her duties as an educator after she gave one of her students the gift of a lifetime — her kidney.

5-year-old Kayleigh Kulage from Pacific, Missouri, was born premature at 26 weeks and spent 150 days in the NICU.

Ever since then, the youngster has faced more medical complications than anyone her age ever should, including partial blindness and a compromised immune system. Before the transplant, her kidneys were failing, meaning little Kayleigh had to undergo 11 hours of dialysis treatment every single night for more than four years.

"Her whole life has been a lot of hospital visits, surgeries and doctors' appointments," her mom, Desiree Kulage, told Good Morning America. "She’s been around doctors and nurses and adults her whole life, that’s all she really knows."

Kayleigh met her preschool teacher, Robin Mach, back in 2019 and when her health required her to remain at home, Miss Mach began teaching her from there.

Unsplash | Gautam Arora

In October, Mach learned that Kayleigh had finally reached the size requirement for her to be put on the kidney transplant list, and she realized she could her in more ways than just shaping her young mind.

"One day Desiree and I were just talking and I asked her, ‘Can the kidney be from an adult?,' and she said, 'Yes,'" Mach recalled to GMA. "I said what do I need to do to check it out? Maybe I’m small enough."

After three months of testing, Mach, who stands at less than five feet tall, was determined to be a suitable donor match for Kayleigh.

Unsplash | Daan Stevens

The transplant surgery was scheduled for February 3.

"When they gave us a surgery date, that’s when it got real that we were doing this," Mach said. "I wasn't nervous about the surgery, but I was more nervous that something was going to happen that would keep us from being able to have the surgery, especially with COVID."

The surgery, which took place at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, lasted six hours and was a complete success.

Both Mach and Kayleigh have now been given the green light to go home and recover, and the educator has made sure to keep in touch with the Kulage family every day.

“She’s incredible," Desiree told Fox 2. "She was offering to do our laundry. And take me back and forth. And I’m like, ‘you just had major surgery. You need to go home and rest."

She added that she's struggling to find the right way to thank Miss Robin for the incredible gift she gave her young daughter.

"I don’t know how to thank her," Desiree admitted. "So, all I keep on saying is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

As For Mach, the decision to help Kayleigh was a simple one.

“She needed [the kidney]," she told Fox 2. "I wanted her to have a normal life and go to school. And this is how we can help her get there.”

h/t: Good Morning America, Fox 2