I’M GIV­ING MY KID­NEY TO MY STU­DENT

Best Teacher Ever! A Wis­con­sin teacher’s in­cred­i­ble act of kind­ness to­ward her 4-year-old pupil

In Touch (USA) - - Reallife -

Meet­ings about her 4-year-old daugh­ter’s health are, sadly, not un­usual for Dena Car­reyn. Lit­tle Lyla strug­gles with a rare au­toim­mune dis­or­der, so when Dena was called into pres­chool teacher Beth Bat­tista’s class­room in Septem­ber, she thought noth­ing of it — un­til Beth sur­prised her by hand­ing her a “present.” Dena opened the box and found a note in­side. “I may just be her teacher now, but soon a lit­tle piece of me will be with Lyla for­ever,” it read. “I’m Lyla’s kid­ney donor.”

It was the an­swer to a des­per­ate mother’s prayers. Lyla’s days of spend­ing 12 hours at­tached to a dial­y­sis ma­chine would soon be over. Dena’s jaw nearly hit the floor when she read the note. “Then ev­ery­body lost it,” Beth, 36, tells In Touch of the emo­tional mo­ment, which was caught on cam­era (see right) and has since gone vi­ral with nearly 2 mil­lion Face­book views. “There’s al­ways been a part of me that has known I was meant for more than be­ing a mother, a wife and a teacher,” the mom of two adds. “You don’t have very many op­por­tu­ni­ties to save some­body’s life.”

Lyla’s health prob­lems be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2015. The seem­ingly healthy child came down with a fever and what her mother thought was pneu­mo­nia. Doc­tors found she was suf­fer­ing from kid­ney fail­ure and di­ag­nosed her with mi­cro­scopic polyangi­itis, a rare and po­ten­tially fa­tal dis­ease in which in­flam­ma­tion of blood ves­sels causes dam­age to vi­tal or­gans. “Lyla’s kid­neys don’t work prop­erly,” says Dena, 42, a stayat-home mom who adopted Lyla at birth and also has a son, Clay, 7. “We try to let her do as many nor­mal 4-yearold things as pos­si­ble, but she takes about 19 med­i­ca­tions every day and she is al­ways de­hy­drated.”

Word of Lyla’s sit­u­a­tion be­gan to spread around their Madi­son, Wis., com­mu­nity. In July, Beth saw a Face­book post about their des­per­ate search for a kid­ney donor. “There was some­thing that com­pelled me to call the donor co­or­di­na­tor,” Beth says. “A week and a half later, I got a call say­ing we have match­ing anti­gens.” By early Septem­ber, she’d passed all sub­se­quent tests and de­cided to share the good news. “When I told Lyla,” re­calls Dena, “she said, ‘ What?! Not Ms. Beth!’ She was com­pletely shocked.”

The trans­plant is sched­uled for Feb. 22 at Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin Hospi­tal. Beth and Lyla will need a few weeks to re­cover, then they’ll both be back in school and bonded like no other teacher and stu­dent. “It just makes me feel so in­cred­i­bly happy and blessed that I am able to give this to her,” Beth says. “Now I have a sec­ond fam­ily, and I know that I’ll be able to watch Lyla grow up and be a nor­mal kid.”

— Re­port­ing by Amanda Williams

Beth (left) and Dena ap­peared on in Oc­to­ber to share their amaz­ing story.

TELLING LYLA’S MOM THE GOOD NEWS A school ad­min­is­tra­tor recorded the meet­ing where Beth told Dena (right) she is do­nat­ing her kid­ney to Dena's daugh­ter. UNIQUE CON­NEC­TION “She’s a funny and smart lit­tle girl,” pres­chool teacher Beth says of Lyla. “We have

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