Breaking News
More () »

WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Fourth grade student to receive kidney from unlikely source: Her school's teacher

A 10-year-old Slate Ridge Elementary School student is about to receive a kidney from one of her school's teachers.

"I don't want to say I gave Him an ultimatum, but I said 'This is all I have left and you're going to have to show me something'," Alana Brown said.

Brown says she didn't know what else to do but rely on a higher power. Her 8-year-old daughter, Eva, had been recently diagnosed with Collapsing FSGS and End-stage renal failure and had no working kidneys.

"Knowing that she is going to need multiple transplants in her life, we needed to have a living donor," Brown said.

Family was ready and willing to donate, but they didn't match.

"And that's when I'm like 'How am I going to find a stranger," she said.

A stranger. A slim chance. Until someone saw a Facebook post and sent Brown a message.

"And, I said 'Give me the number, I'm texting her right now'," Tanya Thomas said. "I texted [Brown] and said 'I'll do it. If you don't have anybody that stepped forward, let me know'."

A message sent by Tanya Thomas.

A message received by Alana Brown.

Complete strangers who were completely clueless they weren't strangers at all.

Brown calls her child's life-saver, Tanya, but her daughter, who is a fourth-grader at Slate Ridge Elementary School in Reynoldsburg, calls her Ms. Thomas. She's a teacher at Eva's school.

"It's really a wonderful, wonderful gift that this door was opened for me and I had the opportunity to walk through it," Thomas said. "I feel very fortunate and very blessed that I get to be a part of their journey."

It took six months from the start of testing to find out Thomas is a spot-on blood and tissue match. So much so, doctors are saying there's less than a three percent chance for rejection.

"And you are a hero," Brown told Thomas, Tuesday, inside Thomas' classroom. "It doesn't feel that way, but I understand," Thomas said.

A hero. A guardian angel. The family has many names for Thomas: The saver of a little girl's prom, graduation, college and marriage. The saver of a little girl's life.


"I know she doesn't get it, but I love you from my soul," Brown told Thomas. "You've given me my baby."

Brown says Eva, now 10, who currently is on dialysis 10 hours a day, understands the gift she's about to receive.

"I was appreciative whoever," Brown said, recalling Eva's words. "But, I feel better and I feel safer knowing that it's coming from Ms. Thomas because she's a good person."

A few weeks ago, Thomas gave Eva a hand-written letter when the two had a tea party to celebrate life.

"I think it said two things," Thomas said. "I wanted her to be the best person that she could be and achieve her dreams and also always give the glory to God for this blessing. She owes me nothing. I want her to move forward and be who she's supposed to be."

Brown says the transplant was scheduled for the end of May, but due to a recent setback with Eva's health, the transplant will now be scheduled for mid-July.

The family has set up a YouCaring account to help with Eva's 24/7 needs. You can learn more and donate, here.

Both Brown and Thomas say they also want to get the word out about the importance of organ donation. They want to encourage people to be living donors. For more information, you can learn about the National Kidney Foundation, here, or UNOS, an organization that specializes in organ donation, here.