Blog post

What I did this summer: Donate a kidney

Four secondary school teachers spent their summer break doing something a little unconventional: donating a kidney!
Chalkboard with "My Teachers Rock!", red apple and two red books

Summer is ending and the back-to-school season is upon us. For those out of school for this season, how did you spend your time off? Hopefully participating in some traditional summertime fun like swimming at the pool or connecting with your family on a vacation trip.

For four secondary school teachers, the answer is a little more unconventional. They took advantage of their time off school to donate a kidney!

About 104,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, and 87% of them are waiting for a kidney. Most transplanted organs are from deceased donors, and the wait for an organ from a deceased donor can last years. Living donation offers an alternative for people on the transplant waiting list and increases the number of available organs for everyone. Kidneys from living donors also last longer than those from deceased donors, with a living kidney donor transplant lasting, on average, living kidney 15 to 20 years versus 10 to 15 years for deceased donor transplants.

AKF tips its hat to these four selfless teachers and wanted to share the news stories reporting each of these teacher's incredible donations.

New Jersey teacher donates to coworker

Mike Daneman, a computer science teacher at St. Leo The Great School in Lincroft, New Jersey, started his summer donating his kidney to another teacher at his school, Lauren Crupi. Lauren teaches language arts at the school and her two children are also St. Leo students. She was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease and told her kidneys were failing in December 2022. She needed at transplant to live. Fortunately, Lauren's husband made a Facebook post about her need, and Mike answered, undergoing all the necessary testing to happily discover he was a match! "I lost my mom…when I was 5 to cancer and I know how important it is that these kids to have their mom," Mike explained to the New Jersey News. "I actually teach [Lauren's] son in class and their daughter is the same age that I was when I lost my mom."

The two successfully underwent surgery at Columbian Presbyterian Hospital on June 1.

Michigan teacher donates to coworker's son

At Independence Elementary School in Clarkston, Michigan, Jessica Sorenson teaches third, fourth and fifth grade in the school's virtual program. Her coworker, third-grade-teacher Dennis Klenow, sent an email to the Clarkston Community Schools district to see if anyone would be willing to donate a kidney to his 19-year-old son, Adam. Adam was born with several health concerns and his parents knew he would likely need a transplant one day. However, they were devastated when they learned that neither of them was a match. Fortunately, Jessica was one of the dozen teachers who answered Dennis's call for help. "My initial reaction [to the email] was I have to do it because I know without a shadow of a doubt if it were myself in that same position and I were asking for my children, that Dennis would do it, no questions asked," Jessica told ClickOn Detroit. "He would've been in the car and on his way. I got a phone call just a couple of days later that I was not only a match, but an exact match."

Jessica and Adam's transplant surgery took place during her first week of summer, the week of June 12, and both are recovering well.

Wyoming teacher donates to sister

History teacher Alexis Hedrick used her time off from Thunder Basin High School in Gillette, Wyoming to donate her kidney to her big sister, Angie Dickinson. In 2007, Angie was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a rare disease that causes inflammation (swelling) and kidney damage due to buildup of proteins in your kidneys. This lowers the kidneys' ability to filter waste and fluid from a person's blood. Angie knew she would likely need a kidney transplant one day and Alexis volunteered to be the donor when the time came. That time came this summer when the two underwent the transplant surgery on July 11 at Centura Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, Colorado. "I think originally I said it kind of flippantly," Alexis said to the Gilette News Record, "but I knew right away I'd give her my kidney. She's my sister."

Ohio geometry teacher donates to former student

Whitmer Senior High School geometry teacher Eddie McCarthy may not have planned to spend part of his summer break donating a kidney, but he did not factor his former student Roman McCormick into the equation. Eddie had no idea that Roman, one his best students, spent the year in his classroom living with stage 4 kidney disease. The 15-year-old's kidneys were failing, and he would need a transplant. Roman was diagnosed with branchiootorenal syndrome when he was just one year old, which is a genetic disorder that can impact a person's ears and kidneys. He knew he would likely need a transplant someday and when he was in eighth grade, his parents started proactively seeking one out for him. They created a website, shared posts on Facebook and even made a plea on TV with the local news — which is how Eddie found out that Roman needed a kidney. In February, he decided he would get tested, saying to The Washington Post, "A little bit of pain was something I decided I could endure to prevent a kid from going on dialysis or possibly dying." Eddie, a father of two young girls, underwent all the testing without telling Roman and his family, not wanting to unnecessarily get their hopes up. In June, the family was told Roman had a donor and Eddie surprised them by revealing it was him. On July 19, Roman received Eddie's kidney at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Teachers often go above and beyond in their jobs, but these four have performed a selfless act and each saved someone's life — what a wonderful way to take advantage of school being out for summer!

Interested in becoming a living donor? Find out more about the process on our website.


Meredith Deeley

Meredith Deeley is the communications specialist for the American Kidney Fund.