There is a lot of advice your peers give you before starting a new job.
“Befriend the school custodian, because they are the heart of the school,” was quite possibly the most perfect advice that 3rd-grade teacher Erin Durga could have received. She learned it from her father.
Her dad, also a teacher, had no idea how this would come into play later in life.
Years later, Erin grew up to be an elementary school teacher and took that saying to heart.
At the elementary school where she works, Patrick Merten is the custodian. When he was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure and needed a transplant, his daughter took to Facebook in hopes that one of her connections would lead the family to find a kidney donor.
According to the Facebook post, Patrick was well-loved by everyone he came into contact with.
He was a kind and loving person with a wife, kids, and grandkids – who unfortunately had to go on dialysis to survive until he found someone with O blood type.
In the post, she explained:
“Pat was hospitalized in February of 2018, and was later diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure, after many tests and bloodwork his doctors decided his best option was to start Kidney Dialysis until he receives 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.”
Erin heard his story and decided to see if there was something she could do about it.
As it turns out, she was a match.
“Pat needs a kidney. It needs to be O Type blood. And I think it’s gonna be me.” she told her husband when she first heard the news. When they found out that Erin was going to be the donor, there wasn’t a dry eye from either family.
“There were tears. There were hugs and it was beautiful.”
In an interview with CBS Evening News, they two talked a little about their experience.
“I don’t know how I can ever thank you,” is all Patrick can say to Erin for saving his life. He’s obviously told this to Erin many times, but each time she just feels embarrassed and smiles.
A month after they learned of the match, they were admitted to the hospital for their respective surgeries.
A kidney transplant can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but Erin was confident in her decision to be a donor. Both surgeries were successful and it was heartwarming that the two could be there for each other throughout the experience.
The healing process went just as well and they were both back to work in no time!
There is truly no greater gift than that of giving someone their life.
Without Erin, who knows what Patrick’s fate would have been. But a special thanks goes out to Erin’s dad who advised her years ago to always befriend the school custodian.
The smiles on their faces say it all. Stories like Erin and Patrick’s warm your heart and are a good reminder that there is good in the world.
Watch the full interview and story below from CBS for yourself and try not to cry!
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