Teacher saves custodian’s life with kidney donation

Teacher saves custodian’s life with kidney donation

Third-grade teacher Erin Durga’s dad, who is also a teacher, once gave her a piece of advice: Befriend the school custodians because they are the heart of the school. But when custodian Pat Mertens needed something it wasn’t a heart — it was a kidney.

Too proud to ask for help on his own, his daughter pleaded on Facebook for someone to donate a kidney and “help save a life.”

Durga saw the post and told her husband she planned on donating a kidney.

“About 30 seconds into reading this, I turn to my husband, and I said, Pat needs a kidney, it needs to be O-type blood, and I think it’s going to be me,” she said.

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CBS News logoTeacher saves custodian’s life with kidney donation

Third-grade teacher Erin Durga’s dad, who is also a teacher, once gave her a piece of advice: Befriend the school custodians because they are the heart of the school. But when custodian Pat Mertens needed something it wasn’t a heart — it was a kidney.

a man sitting in a room: 7-heading-to-surgery-i-finally-got-to-see-pat-copy.jpg© Handout 7-heading-to-surgery-i-finally-got-to-see-pat-copy.jpg
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“Season of Giving”: Teacher saves custodian’s life with kidney donation

Too proud to ask for help on his own, his daughter pleaded on Facebook for someone to donate a kidney and “help save a life.”

Durga saw the post and told her husband she planned on donating a kidney.

“About 30 seconds into reading this, I turn to my husband, and I said, Pat needs a kidney, it needs to be O-type blood, and I think it’s going to be me,” she said.

a man sitting on a bed: Pat Mertens and Erin Durga / Credit: Handout© Provided by CBS News Pat Mertens and Erin Durga / Credit: Handout
She was right. Durga was a match.

“There were tears and there were hugs and it was beautiful,” Durga said.

Mertens received the kidney transplant in July, which was a success. Both Mertens and Durga were healthy enough to return to work in August.

With the donation, Mertens said he now has his life back.

“I don’t know how I can ever thank you,” Mertens said.

“I feel somewhat embarrassed almost every time he says that,” Durga said, adding that she didn’t donate her kidney for the praise.

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