Teacher donating kidney to student’s mom

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 12:48 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:25 PM CST
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LOWNDESBORO, Ala. (WSFA) - Think back to elementary or middle school, and everyone has a teacher who they really enjoyed, someone they connected with. That connection and friendship could turn out to be life-saving for one family.

When an Alabama teacher learned her former student’s mom needed a kidney, she decided to donate hers without ever meeting her in person.

“She’s my heart,” said former Lowndes Academy teacher Katie Hollingshead.

While she only taught at Lowndes Academy for a year, Hollingshead said she immediately hit it off with student CJ Forest.

“Yes, we are very close, “ Hollingshead said of her relationship with Forest.

Forest, Hollingsworth said, has a huge heart and really connects with people.

Over the summer, Hollingshead learned something that would change two families’ lives forever. She was volunteering at vacation bible school when she came across a prayer request about someone needing a kidney.

“I didn’t even know her mother’s name,” Hollingshead said. “A lady saw I was confused and said that’s CJ’s mom. That afternoon I messaged CJ and asked for her mom’s birthday to start the process of getting on the transplant list.”

Hollingshead was a perfect match.

“I was already approved to give her mom a kidney before I even met her,” she added.

Hollingshead said this wasn’t for a stranger, she knew CJ and her mom had a special mother/daughter relationship.

“This is a gift to her so CJ can have her mom. No sweet 16-year-old girl should lose her mama. Her mama, prayers and willing, is going to see many more years of life just because I’m going to live with one kidney instead of two,” Hollingshead added.

The surgery is expected to take place Friday at UAB Hospital.

Hollingshead hopes to be out of the hospital and back in the classroom at W-O Parmer Elementary School in Greenville as soon as possible. She says her recovery time should be about six weeks.

Tiffany Forest, who’s getting the kidney on Friday, says both families recently took a trip to Tokyo together. They have a bond that will never go away.

Hollingshead wants others to consider being an organ donor and she’s hoping her story will inspire others.

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