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Minnesota elementary teacher donates kidney to school custodian in need

Minnesota elementary teacher donates kidney to school custodian in need
Posted at 11:29 AM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 13:29:06-05

When a Minnesota teacher learned that her school's custodian was in dire need of a new kidney, she didn't hesitate to step up to the plate.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and CNN, teacher Erin Durga and custodian Part Mertens have been co-workers at Kimball Elementary School in Kimball, Minnesota, for nine years.

The two were well acquainted — they often exchanged pleasantries in the hall, and Durga's children attended a daycare ran by Merten's wife.

Recently, Mertens had been leaving school early three days a week to attend dialysis treatments. Earlier this year, the school organized a "Hats for Pat" fundraiser to help pay for his treatments. But school officials didn't realize how dire Mertens' situation was until his daughter posted a plea for help on Facebook.

According to Mertens' daughter, Kayla Matten, none of her fathers' relatives was a match for a kidney transplant.

"We are now in the process of trying to find someone with an O blood type and someone who is willing to donate their kidney," she wrote, according to CNN.

When Durga saw the post, she didn't hesitate. She knew she wanted to donate her kidney to a co-worker in need.

"Why wouldn't you [do it]?" she told the Star Tribune.

In late spring, Durga and Mertens found out they were a match.

"It brought a few tears to my eyes," Mertens told the Star Tribune. "I'm not much for expressing myself."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the two underwent the transplant surgery on July 3. Months later, Mertens is doing well, and the Star Tribune reports that he is no longer "tethered" to dialysis treatments.

"I can live again," Mertens told the Star Tribune.