Posted on May 13, 2010 at 10:43 AM
SAGINAW — Teacher Appreciation Week takes on new meaning in Saginaw, where one teacher is truly indebted to another, thanks to an organ donation.
More than 100,000 people are in need of an organ transplant.
Mike Lebby hunkered down for a long wait, never dreaming his wife's colleague would give him a second chance at life.
Prairie Vista Middle School in Saginaw is where teachers Kathy Lebby and Rebecca Burke share their love of learning with students.
Now, they also share a forever friendship.
It started before Christmas, when Lebby mentioned that her husband, Mike, needed a kidney transplant. Even though she'd never officially met him, Burke immediately volunteered to be tested.
"Suddenly she's saying, 'I want to give him a kidney.' And I looked at her and said, 'you know, we're not trying to borrow your car. We're talking about a kidney here, it's major surgery here.' And she said, 'I know that,'" Lebby said.
Once the wheels were set in motion, and Burke turned out to be a match, she said she never once had a doubt about donating a kidney, about surgery, and about helping a friend.
"If it was somebody in my family and I couldn't help him — which his family couldn't — I would want somebody to step up and do it for my family," Burke said. "I couldn't imagine not having my dad, or if I was married, not having my husband."
Her selfless act has given Mike Lebby and his wife their future back, and taught them all a lesson in giving.
"I want people to know not so much that I got a kidney — which is awesome — but about Rebecca, and what she did as a person," Mike Lebby said.
Living kidney donations are still relatively uncommon. About 500 procedures were performed in Texas last year. Nearly 8,000 people, however, were in need of a kidney transplant.