Kayleigh Kulage of Pacific, Missouri, was born a fighter.
Her mom, Desiree Kulage, said Kayleigh was just 15.2 ounces when she was born prematurely at 26 weeks. The little one spent 158 days in the NICU fighting for her life, but she made it through!
Today, Kayleigh is 5 years old. Other than having long-lasting problems with her kidneys, she’s a perfectly cheerful, spunky little girl.
“If she didn’t have like these tubes on her or anything, you wouldn’t really know anything’s wrong with her,” Desiree said. “She never cries. She never complains about pain. She’s a happy kid. I couldn’t have been any luckier to have her.”
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Still, Kayleigh’s deteriorating kidneys required nightly peritoneal dialysis. Her parents performed the treatment at home each night, which quickly became an exhausting, soul-draining part of their routine.
But now, thanks to an incredibly generous act of kindness by Kayleigh’s former preschool teacher, she is finally tube-free and able to start a new life with a brand new kidney!
Robin Mach is a teacher who had Kayleigh in her preschool class in 2019. When Kayleigh needed home services, Robin was sent to her family to help. She got to know them and fell in love with the little girl. In fact, Robin had only been working with her for a year and a half when she decided to donate one of her own kidneys so Kayleigh could grow up like any other kid!
Amazingly enough, Robin was a perfect match! When she was asked why she decided to donate a kidney to Kayleigh, her answer was simple: “She needed it. I wanted her to have a normal life and go to school. And this is how we can help her get there.”
The two of them had their transplant surgery and are on the mend! Robin recovered very quickly and keeps offering to help the Kulages with driving and other tasks. As for Kayleigh, she had some scary days post-surgery, but now she’s showing that same fighting spirit that got her through those early days.
“She’s come out of it like a trooper,” Desiree said. “I had the PICU doctor yesterday say that he can’t believe she just had major surgery less than a week ago. And that she’s probably the happiest child in the hospital.”
Robin continues to check on their family every single day! Is she a teacher or a guardian angel? Either way, we’re blown away by the priceless gift she gave this little girl, and we know Kayleigh will thrive thanks to her selflessness!
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