Missouri Teacher Donates Her Kidney To 5-Year-Old Student, Says She 'Didn't Think Twice'

May 14, 2021 by apost team

A little girl in Missouri was given a new chance at life when her preschool teacher offered an incredible donation. Kayleigh Kulage, 5, was born prematurely in Pacific, Missouri, and has been dealing with some health issues and struggles ever since. She was born with failing kidneys, and her parents have been working day and night to help their daughter on her health recovery. Kayleigh’s preschool teacher, Robin Mach, made the incredible decision to donate one of her kidneys to Kayleigh to help her in 2021.

Growing up, every child just wants to fit in. While our differences make us unique, having a common ground can be helpful, especially when it comes to everyday routines and getting along with others. Kayleigh had always been an optimistic child, but her life was more challenging than most of her classmates’ lives due to her kidneys, and getting a new one wasn’t necessarily easy. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 107,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for an organ donation. Kayleigh needed some luck, or someone special, to help her out.

Kayleigh’s parents, Desiree and Josh Kulage, have dedicated their lives to nurturing their daughter through her health struggles. Kayleigh had been going through extremely long rounds of dialysis every night for more than four years, but she was finally going to be able to stop this daily routine. The homebound student’s special education teacher was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and donate her own kidney to Kayleigh.

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According to KTVI, Kayleigh was born early at 26 weeks and weighed only 15.2 ounces. KTVI reported that Kayleigh had spent almost 160 days in the neonatal intensive care unit after she was born and has since struggled with partial blindness, a compromised immune system and failing kidneys. She was not eligible for the kidney transplant due to her short height of just under 3 feet tall and her light weight of only 26 pounds, according to Good Morning America.

“If she didn’t have these tubs on her or anything, you wouldn’t really know anything’s wrong with her,” Desiree said. Despite everything Kayleigh has been through, the young girl has remained optimistic. “She never cries,” her mother said. “She never complains about pain. She’s a happy kid. I couldn’t have been any luckier to have her."

Good Morning America reported that Mach donated a kidney to Kayleigh after being her teacher for over two years. Mach met Kayleigh in 2019 and has been her teacher ever since. “She was a student at our school,” she explained. “And then she had to receive some home services so I got to do that.” The pair have grown close over the years, as Mach has been a constant figure in Kayleigh’s life.

The reason why Mach decided to donate her kidney is simple and sweet. “She needed it," Mach said. "I wanted her to have a normal life and go to school. And this is how we can help her get there.”

She added that she "didn't think twice" about donating her organ.

Kayleigh’s parents were finally able to tell their daughter the good news. “We were telling Kayleigh because we were giving her a cath that you won’t have your catheter anymore, you don’t have to do dialysis anymore,” Josh said.


According to KTVI, the child’s Feb. 3, 2021, surgery at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, was a success. Although the first 24 hours following the surgery were scary and painful for the Kulage family, Kayleigh’s kidney has continued to work extremely well.

“She’s come out of it like a trooper,” Desiree said. “I had the PICU doctor yesterday say 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.”

The woman responsible for Kayleigh’s new outlook on life has kept in touch with the precious child. “She’s incredible,” Desiree said about Mach. “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.’” 

The women seem to have grown close themselves thanks to the wonderful gift Mach gave Kayleigh and the time they have spent together since. “I don’t know how to thank her,” Desiree admitted. “So, all I keep on saying is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Although Kayleigh had always been an optimistic child and seemed to carry on as if nothing was holding her back, this kidney transplant would further help provide her with a normal childhood. “She has never had a bath, like a normal bath,” her mother explained. “She’ll be able to swim, maybe experience the ocean.”

While the day-to-day activities that most take for granted are now something Kayleigh can do without worry, it’s the endless possibilities for her future that have her family excited. “She’s going to be able to experience stuff she’s never been able to experience,” Desiree said.

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