Madison teacher's kidney donation inspires others - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Madison teacher's kidney donation inspires others

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Madison (WKOW) -- The story about a Madison teacher and student is making waves around the country. It's inspired others to be life-savers.

Lyla Carreyn was the little girl who needed a kidney, Beth Battista was her 4K teacher who gave her one. 

It's been one year since that life-altering transplant. Lyla and Beth are both doing great. Lyla just turned 6. Her birthday party at an indoor water park wouldn't have been possible last year because of her failing kidney. But it is now because of her selfless teacher.

The Carreyns and Battistas now call each other family. They share birthday parties and holidays. Beth visits Lyla at home, still teaching the young student even though she doesn't have her in class anymore.

A recent lesson about how a kidney works had much more meaning for them both. Beth's kidney, now Lyla's kidney, is working great in her little body. "Knowing part of me is inside of her, helping her survive and thrive.... it's amazing," Beth said.

Lyla has grown five inches since the transplant. Mom Dena says she still has to take her to a lot of doctor appointments, but something else is keeping them busy too. "I have people contact me at least once a week, once every two weeks, asking 'How did you find Lyla's donor? How did you go about getting the word out?'"

Dena has shared her tricks with countless families, some of whom have already found donors and had successful transplants. 

Beth is also getting questions from people all over the country who were inspired by her decision and now want to donate themselves. The two families never imagined telling their story would have such an impact on the world. "It's incredible," says Beth. "I think about it all the time."

Kay Anderson, a retiree from Florida, knew her neighbor Barb needed a kidney. But it wasn't until after she saw Lyla and Beth's story, and met Beth through a mutual friend, she decided to save Barb's life. Beth told Kay, "'It totally changed my life' and I didn't get that part until now after, because it's totally changed my life."

It's another amazing story like Lyla's, where Barb's match was literally right next door. Kay told Barb she wanted to help her before they knew she could. Test after test, Kay passed and was eventually told she was a perfect match for Barb. 

"They don't make people better than Kay Anderson," Barb said. She and Kay are both doing great after the surgery in July. Barb said she hasn't felt this good in years.

And Kay's act went on to inspire even more people after she was featured in the local newspaper. "Somebody actually called us from that newspaper article and wanted to talk to me about donating a kidney. I said, absolutely!"

"We've heard wonderful stories about people inspired to donate from hearing the story of Lyla and Beth," Dena said. "That's why we shared the story, to inspire people and to get people to know living donation is an option and it's literally saving lives."

Beth says if she had another kidney to give, she would. "I would do it over 100 times." She's even inspired her daughter to donate when she's old enough.

Lyla will eventually need another kidney. Dena hopes Beth's will last until Lyla is in high school. By then, advances in medicine could mean Lyla gets an artificial kidney or one made from her own stem cells.

In the meantime, Lyla is enjoying life, getting to do things she couldn't before. She'll be the guest of honor at a gala fundraiser for American Family Children's Hospital this Friday. Singer John Legend is performing. Tickets are already sold out. 

If you want to learn more about living donation, click here.

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