03/27/2014 05:05 pm ET Updated Mar 27, 2014

Teacher Decides To Donate Her Kidney To 5-Year-Old Girl After Meeting Her Only Once

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One woman's fateful substitute teaching assignment ended up changing a little girl's life forever.

Cindy Santos, a substitute teacher from Pennsylvania, couldn't stop thinking about one of the students she met while teaching a kindergarten class back in September, the "Today" show reported. Katelynn Ernst, 5, has hemolytic uremic syndrome which forced her to spend as many as 10 hours a day on dialysis while waiting for a kidney.

After Santos stumbled across the Facebook page, Katelynn's Kidney Journey, she decided to find out if she was a match. After many tests and some waiting, it turned out she was.

"There was no denying this was the right thing to do," Santos, who lives less than a mile away from the Ernst family, told Berks-Mont News.

Last December, she donated her kidney to Katelynn.

In addition to the joy from improving Katelynn's life, there was another surprise benefit to the surgery for Santos. Doctors discovered that Santos had a medical condition that was helped by the transplant surgery, according to "Today." Her selfless act ended up unexpectedly improving her own health as well as the child's.

"It’s incredible to be able to do it," Santos told Berks-Mont News. "It’s surreal that she has one of my organs and she’s thriving on it."

For updates on Katelynn's journey, visit her Facebook page.



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