Teachers are often praised for performing exceptionally well at their job, as they should be. They are given an incredible responsibility, and when they perform well, it can have a lasting impression on their students. Teachers are everyday heroes, but one teacher in Madison, Wisconsin, is a hero of a different order.
Beth Battista is a teacher at Kids Express Learning. The 36-year-old has two kids of her own, and so when she learned about a student at the school named Lyla Carreyn who needed help, she was moved. But helping Lyla wouldn’t be so simple, it was going to be a lifelong commitment.
Lyla Carreyn needed dialysis 12 hours a day after being diagnosed with microscopic polyangiitis, a rare autoimmune disorder.
Battista says she first learned about Lyla through a Facebook post by another teacher at the school. After reading her story, she knew she wanted to help. What Lyla needed was a new kidney. Without one, her chances of living a long, full life were practically zero. Lyla’s mother, Dena Carreyn, was exhaustively searching for a donor.
In the Facebook post that Beth read, Lyla’s struggles were cataloged in detail. The then 4-year-old child needed 10–12 hours of dialysis daily, had a tube in her stomach, and experienced all of the side effects of extreme dehydration. Constant headaches, thirst, and stomach pains were all common. Lyla was in a constant fight against her own body.
Carryen had people around the country getting tested to see if they were a match.
“It was crazy because we had people getting tested from California, to Virginia, everywhere in between. Nobody was a match,” Carreyn said on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
Reading what Lyla had to overcome on a daily basis pushed Beth to get tested and see if she was a candidate to be a donor.
She was a match, and she knew what she wanted to do.
Battista discussed it with her family first, then last September, she made the decision to become Lyla’s donor. Battista didn’t even know Lyla at this point. She’d never had her in her class, and never met her or her parents in person. But for whatever reason, something was pressing on her.
She told Lyla’s mother the news in a video that was posted to Facebook. In order to trick Carreyn into coming to the school, Battista told her that she needed to meet to discuss her daughter’s special needs. But really, she’d written Carreyn a note telling her that the search for a donor was over.
“When we got to the meeting, I was shaking,” Battista told Today. “I get choked up just talking about it. It was so powerful to be able to tell her that I’m the answer.”
Battista’s decision to donate one of her kidneys to Lyla provoked an emotional response from her mother.
Posted by Dena Carreyn on Thursday, September 15, 2016
When they met and Carreyn received the news, the two women embraced, and the weight of the world floated off Carreyn’s shoulders.
The surgery didn’t come immediately. Doctors were still working to get the disease under control in Lyla’s body before proceeding with the transplant. But when it finally did earlier this year, Beth made good on her promise to help save Lyla’s life.
Both Battista and Lyla survived the surgery, and Lyla is now a happy and healthy 6-year-old.
“I’m not a big believer in fate,” Carreyn told Today. “But there are so many things that happened to make this come together that just something special in the universe has to have happened.”