Minnesota 3rd grade teacher donates life-saving kidney to 64-year-old school custodian
“She’s our miracle, our angel. We’ll forever be grateful for her.”
A 64-year-old elementary school custodian received a life-saving gift form an unexpected source – a 3rd grade teacher from his own school.
Patrick Mertens, a custodian at Kimball Elementary School in Minnesota, needed a kidney, and, feeling desperate, his daughter, Kayla, posted a heartwarming plea on Facebook.
Mertens didn’t ask any of his colleagues while he searched for a donor – in his mind, he felt it would be a burden, as they had already done enough for him by setting up a fundraiser to support his dialysis.
But Erin Durga, a third-grade teacher at the same school, saw the Facebook post, and knew immediately that she wanted to help. So, she reached out and underwent some test to see if she was a match – she was – and she made up her mind instantly.
“I felt in my heart, from the very beginning, that this was my thing,” said Durga, a mother of three. “Once I decided that, yes, I’m going to donate to Pat, I felt really good about it, and I was at peace with it throughout the entire thing.”
The surgery was a success and now, Mertens and family have a new outlook on life – a second chance.
When they spoke again the night after surgery, Mertens couldn’t stop calling Durga an angel.
“I told Erin, when I first woke up out of surgery, it was nothing I’ve ever felt before,” he said. “It was a new life.”
Mertens sent Durga flowers at Thanksgiving and still calls her to express his gratitude. But he knows that there are no words to ever tell her how truly grateful he really is. His wife, Lynda Mertens, however, tries to find the words for both of them.
“She’s our miracle, our angel,” Lynda Mertens said. “We’ll forever be grateful for her.”