Wendy Killian swears that she is nobody special -- just "a wife, a mommy and a teacher" -- but 8-year-old Nicole Miller will get a new and longer life with the kidney her former kindergarten teacher committed to her Tuesday.
Nicole was born with one kidney and the genetic disorder branchiootorenal syndrome, which causes ear and kidney malformations and cysts in the neck, according to the Mansfield News Journal. Since her remaining kidney is failing her, she often feels tired, and the newspaper reports that she has been forced to miss 18 days of school so far as a result of her condition.
Nicole's father, Brian Miller, explained her failing health a blog post he wrote on Tuesday.
"Her latest labs show that many aspects of the delicate balance of the body are beginning to spiral out of control," he wrote. "Her blood pressure is extremely high for an eight-year-old despite her medicine being increased up to the maximum levels permitted. She continues to struggle in school because focus is extremely difficult for her."
But Killian knows Nicole, her former student, as "Sunshine girl." "Her smile would always light up the whole room," Killian told Fox 8. She said Nicole seemed to giggle constantly when she had her for kindergarten at Mansfield Christian School in Ohio a year ago.
Nicole's parents, Brian and Letitia, were running out of options and potential donors after 18 volunteers proved unsuitable. Brian was out due to his high blood pressure, and Letitia was disqualified because she has Nicole's same disease, albeit a milder case that has not affected her organs. From Dec. 14, 2011 through this past Tuesday morning, Brian could only write of the set-backs that arose in the donor matching process, ask for prayers and inform family and friends of Nicole's remaining kidney's plunging efficiency.
Then Killian came forward. She told Fox 8 she felt blessed that she should be Nicole's match. She called it an act of God.
"Words cannot express how thankful we are for Wendy and the sacrifice she is making for Nicole," Brian wrote.
But Killian says her decision was more of a natural choice than a sacrifice. She told the News Journal that her son William received a vital blood platelet transfusion from a donor as an infant, so she knew what it was to receive such a gift so randomly.
“For me to be able to step in and ease off that burden off of another parent who was sitting bedside of their critically ill child, that I could be the one to step forward ...” she told Fox 8.
Beyond that, she said Nicole was her child in the same way that William is.
"(As their teacher), every child becomes mine for that time," she told the News Journal.
Reflecting on their luck, Brian Miller wrote in his blog, "We can choose to be selfless and help out others who have no chance of ever paying us back, or we can be self-centered and look out just for ourselves."
"We can focus on the bad news that dominates the world around us," he continued, "or we can look to the future and focus on the good."