Teacher donates kidney to student “Watch”

Updated: March 11, 2016
Teacher donates kidney to student - Watch

Wisconsin teacher donating kidney to ailing 8-year-old student.

A first grade teacher in Oakfield, outside of Milwaukee, is going above and beyond the call of duty for one of her students.

Jodi Schmidt is donating a kidney to the 8-year-old girl.

Natasha Fuller was born with kidney disease and she needs dialysis to stay alive.

But, doctors said to keep on living, the eight year old needed a transplant.

Natasha has been waiting for a donor kidney for years but often develops infections that bump her off the transplant list, Chris Burleton said.

Schmidt decided she could give Natasha a new option.

“It truly just came to me after I did a lot of thinking and praying,” Schmidt said. She was driving, so she pulled off the road and called her husband. “I told him, Rich, I want to give a student one of my kidneys.”

After Schmidt went through medical tests to confirm she was a match, she told Oakfield Elementary Principal Becky Doyle she would have to be off work for about eight weeks. The two then came up with a plan to call Natasha’s grandmother into the school office and break the news to her in a special way.

“We gave her a gift box, and under the tissue paper was a card with the words: ‘It’s a match,’ ” Schmidt said.

Natasha’s grandmother said she thought she was being summoned to talk about the child’s grades or her health.

“I just lost it,” Chris Burleton said. “You could never tell this little girl has three tubes in her, she doesn’t let it faze her. She is happy and sassy, and she just wants to lead a normal life, and do things like go swimming.”

Doyle shot a video of Natasha’s grandmother opening the box then called a staff meeting at the end of the day to show the footage. Everybody cried.

“Jodi is extremely passionate, full of life and energy, and does everything 150%, ” Doyle said. “She told me that she knows she is here to do more. She is always looking for ways to serve others.”

Natasha understands a little and knows “Mrs. Schmidt” is doing something that will make her feel better. On the way to dialysis Friday, she asked her grandmother why God made her this way.

“I told her it was because she is a very special girl,” Burleton said.

If Natasha recovers from her latest infection by March 21, a date for the transplant could be set soon after, Chris Burleton said.

Jodi and Rich Schmidt of Plymouth, Wis., are parents to three children: Raegen, 13; Richard, 4; and Jack, 2.

“I have had some really good days in my life, and that was probably one of the best,” Schmidt said of watching Burleton’s reaction when she learned her granddaughter would be getting a kidney. “I think that life takes us on very different paths, and I now have no doubt I was brought to Oakfield for a reason.”