A preschool teacher donated a kidney to her five-year-old student to help her experience a normal life.
A beautiful little girl
When Kayleigh Kulage was born at 26 weeks, she weighed less than a pound and was just 11.25 inches tall. She spent the next 158 days relying on tubes in the NICU and ended up leaving desperate for a new kidney.
But Desiree, Kayleigh’s mother, said her daughter — who’s now five — has grown to be a perfect little girl.
“If she didn’t have like these tubes on her or anything you wouldn’t really know anything’s wrong with her,” Desiree told Fox 2. “She never cries. She never complains about pain. She’s a happy kid. I couldn’t have been any luckier to have her.”
Every night, Kayleigh’s parents set up peritoneal dialysis to pump excess fluid from her body — but thanks to the extreme kindness of Kayleigh’s pre-kindergarten teacher, they won’t have to any longer.
“We were telling Kayleigh because we were giving her a bath that you won’t have your catheter anymore, you won’t have to do dialysis anymore,” said Josh Kulage, Kayleigh’s father, to Fox 2. “A whole new chapter.”
A guardian angel
Robin Mach, Kayleigh’s preschool teacher, only met her in 2019, but had little hesitation about donating her kidney to the young girl.
“She was a student at our school. And then she had to receive some home services so I got to do that. So, I’ve been working with Kayleigh for about a year and a half,” Robin told Fox 2. “She needed it. I wanted her to have a normal life and go to school. And this is how we can help her get there.”
For the first 24 hours, Kayleigh’s family was terrified she wouldn’t make it through. But a week post-op, she’s doing great.
“She’s come out of it like a trooper. I had the PICU doctor yesterday say that he can’t believe she just had major surgery less than a week ago. And that she’s probably the happiest child in the hospital,” Desiree said.
After going through surgery, Mach wasn’t worried about herself. Rather, her focus was on making sure little Kayleigh was doing alright.
“She’s incredible. She was offering to do our laundry. And take me back and forth. And I’m like, ‘you just had major surgery. You need to go home and rest,’” Desiree said of Mach. “I don’t know how to thank her. So, all I keep on saying is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
She’ll be able to swim in the ocean one day
Desiree hopes that now that Kayleigh has a kidney she’ll be able to lead a normal life.
“She has never had a bath, like a normal bath. She’ll be able to swim, maybe experience the ocean. So, she’s going to be able to experience stuff she’s never been able to experience,” she said.
The power of kindness
Kayleigh did nothing wrong to get into her health situation; she was simply born in need of a kidney. But there was a chance her life could get better, and that glimmer of hope is all Mach needed to help her get there.
Not everyone can, or is willing to, donate a kidney — that is truly an angelic act. But we all can be kind to one another and do the little things that make people’s lives around us that much better.