Neil Emmott was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 2001, and when his kidney function dropped dangerously low in 2016, the hunt was on for a donor. Because of some health issues, both his wife Lisa and her brother-in-law were rejected as donors, meaning Neil would have to undergo dialysis until a match was found.
But that can take years. Luckily, a hero emerged from an unlikely place.
Allison Malouf teaches first grade and, at the time, the Emmott’s daughter, Mackenzie, was in her class. Allison’s husband had donated one of his kidneys eight years earlier, so when she learned about Neil’s plight, she didn’t hesitate.
When you are a teacher, you feel like a part of these children’s lives. Their daughter was like a child of my own. I didn’t want to see her without a dad… God gives you two kidneys, but you only need one.
Unfortunately, Allison (pictured above, middle) was rejected because her blood type didn’t match Neil’s. Her fellow teacher, Britani Atkinson, (pictured at right) has the universal O type, but the differences in size between her kidney and Neil’s was too great. So last summer, they signed up with the National Kidney Registry, agreeing to donate their kidneys to strangers in exchange for a kidney for Neil.
And it worked! That Fall, a hospital in Boston received one of Britani’s kidneys that helped save 4 people’s lives. And when a match was found for Neil, he received a kidney from a donor in California.
Neil’s health almost immediately improved.
What a relief! So… that meant Allison could go ahead and take her name off the list, right? Wrong. She followed through with her commitment and saved four lives in the process, including that of a 14-year-old boy.
“In the end, I donated my right kidney on behalf of a child in need. I couldn’t stand to see a child living on dialysis,” she explained.
In the wake of all those success stories, Lisa, Allison, and Britany are now spreading the word about Neil’s transplant to raise awareness about living kidney donation programs. It’s a gift that “gives as much to you as the person to whom you donate,” Britani says.
There are very few opportunities in life to truly give something that is infinitely priceless to someone that costs you nothing.
Allison agrees, adding, “This has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 100,000 people were waiting for kidney transplants as of 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available.
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