by Susanna Baird | AOL news
Steve Rehling gave Veva Vesper one of his kidneys on Tuesday, a quarter-century after Vesper gave his son a kindergarten diploma.
Hope marks every graduation, whether the students have mastered the complexities of business administration or the letters of the alphabet. The kids at the Annunciation School's 1985 kindergarten graduation, including Josh Rehling, sporting a red shirt for the occasion, celebrated their readiness for the next round of academic adventures. Their teacher, Veva Vesper, celebrated hope for her own future.
Vesper's kidneys had failed. On that graduation day 25 years ago, she received the news that a kidney was available from an organ donor. She underwent the transplant and moved forward with life as her kindergartners, including Josh, moved forward into first grade.
Josh's dad, Steve, no doubt felt pride on that day as well, and perhaps a sense of gratitude to his son's teacher, who also taught Josh's brother Adam and is now a family friend.
"They were wonderful boys," Vesper, 66, told WKRC.
"She was a great teacher," Rehling, 60, told the station.
He probably never imagined that his gratitude would someday turn into a selfless act of lifesaving when he found out Vesper's transplanted kidney was failing.
He and Vesper, both from Clifton, Ohio, decided to go public with the transplant, which took place Tuesday at Cincinnati's Christ Hospital, to encourage other potential organ donors. Rehling said he didn't expect to feel as if he had received something, too.
"It didn't occur to me what it would mean to me," hetold WLWT. "I'm not an emotional person, (but) this is as much a gift to me as it is to her."
Vesper's new organ is one of approximately 14,000 kidneys transplanted each year. One-third of those kidneys come from living donors such as Rehling.
To see Vesper and Rehling discuss the transplant, visit WLWT. To read more, visit WKRC. To learn more about organ donation, visit OrganDonor.gov.