Principal to give former student ultimate Christmas gift: Her kidney

Washington Post | Ariana Eunjung Cha

Christine Buell and former student Kelvin Sanders III before their pre-op appointment at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center in mid-December. (Courtesy Christine Buell)

The week between Christmas and New Year's — a time that's supposed to be filled with all manner of cheerful things like fancy dresses, ski trips and hot chocolate — is when Christine Buell is scheduled to be lying in a hospital bed in San Francisco while doctors carefully remove her kidney. The surgery is 100 percent voluntary.

Buell, a 45-year-old vice principal at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School and a mother of two young girls, is donating the organ to a former student, Kelvin Sanders, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease last fall at the age of 19. After they remove the kidney from Buell on Dec. 29, the surgeons will wrap it up, put it on ice and rush it over to another surgery room, where they will sew it inside Kelvin's body.

Buell had heard about Kelvin's situation by happenstance eight months ago while browsing her Facebook feed on an otherwise ordinary day.

As a teacher for more than 20 years, Buell was Facebook friends with a lot of her former students — some 500 to 600 of them — and enjoyed keeping up with them through social media. Sandwiched between the messages about new jobs, fabulous vacations, grinning babies and other life news was a more sobering update from one of Kelvin's friends. The note explained that Kelvin had suddenly become sick and his family was looking for a kidney donor. Continue reading