NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) – Six-year-old Matthew Parker has struggled with kidney difficulties his entire life. He received a transplant from a non-living donor when he was 2 years old, but his body is now rejecting the organ. Matthew and his family have been searching for a new living, donor for two years, but they had no idea she was right in front of them.
Doctors sorted through over 80 applicants from all across the country. Since Matthew has already had a kidney transplant, the odds of finding a new donor that matched his body’s needs were slim. Doctors say there was a 1% chance any applicant would be a match.
But as chance would have it, Matthew’s teacher at Hoffmann Lane Elementary is his perfect match.
“It’s hard not to feel like this is the way things were meant to be,” said Lindsey Painter. She has been a teacher in the Comal Independent School District for 13 years but decided to transfer to Hoffmann Lane in August to be closer to her family. “Everything has fallen into place and it’s happened that way for a reason.”
His mother, Lisa Parker was in tears as she talked about Ms. Painter’s decision to go through with the surgery.
“I don’t think any words can say how we feel,” said Parker. “I’m hoping for the best for both of them.”
A new kidney for Matthew will mean no more trips to San Antonio for dialysis treatments and a chance to be a normal kid once again. He currently spends three days out of the week in the hospital.
“He has to sit at dinner and watches everyone else eat certain foods or drink certain drinks and he can’t participate,” Parker added. “He has to watch his brothers play sports and he’s not out there. You’ve got to look at it through his eyes and see how hard it is.” Matthew is a triplet and one of five boys in the Parker family.
The surgery is scheduled to happen sometime in mid-March. Matthew and Ms. Painter will each miss about six weeks from school. They both say it is going to be well worth it.
“The first day he came to kindergarten he walks in with a smile from ear to ear,” said Principal Krista Moffatt. “He does not let life get him down. It’s just that spirit that we all should have.”
“You get 22 new kids every year and he’s one of them,” Painter added, “and he’s definitely special.”
According to a National Kidney Foundation report, doctors performed 16,896 kidney transplants in 2013, but only 5,733 of those came from living donors. Most donors were relatives of the patient. Only 639 of those donations came from people who were not related to the person who needed the kidney.
The Parker’s insurance will cover surgery costs for Painter, and the community at Hoffmann Lane Elementary are raising funds and food donations to help Ms. Painter as she recovers. Painter will not be paid during her time off.
Although the Parker family have found a donor for Matthew, they are still actively working to spread the word about organ donations so others with similar conditions can have a fighting chance like Matthew. To sign up to be a potential donor, click here.