MANSFIELD, Ohio – Wendy Killian loves all her students at Mansfield Christian School, but this past year, one little girl unexpectedly touched her life.
“I would always call her my sunshine girl because her smile would always light up the whole classroom,” Killian said.
That little ray of sunshine is Nicole, a student in Killian’s kindergarten classroom last year.
The eight-year-old has branchiootorenal syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects her hearing and kidneys. Nicole was born with one kidney, and it’s been failing her whole life.
“Then as I got to know her more, and realized how sick she was, that just impressed me all the more,” Killian said.
Nicole’s condition worsened. She missed more than a couple weeks of school this past year.
She needed a kidney. Fast.
So it was then that Nicole’s dad, Brian, went to the web for help.
He created a blog, “Standing in the Way,” chronicling the disease that was wearing his child down.
In a matter of months, 18 people volunteered to give a kidney to Nicole. None of those people were a match.
But a parent-teacher conference gave Nicole’s mom, Letitia, a glimmer of hope.
Killian, 39, believed she would be a match.
“I was skeptical because we had gone through 18 people,” Letitia said. “So I was like, ‘well, just think about it, pray about it, see how it goes.’ We prayed.”
Sure enough, those prayers were answered.
Killian was a match, and now, she plans to donate her kidney to Nicole.
“To have someone to want to do that in such a self-sacrificial way is just very humbling as a parent,” Brian said. “Very humbling,” his wife echoed.
Now, Nicole is anxious to start functioning more like her two brothers and sister, especially eating one of her favorite meals.
“Milk! Tacos!” Nicole exclaimed. “I love tacos.”
For Killian, she’s also anxious to give a child a second chance at life, because she also knows what it’s like to have a child suffering.
“When my youngest was born, he became very critically ill and we weren’t sure if he was going to make it,” she said. “The doctors couldn’t tell us yes or no.”
Killian’s youngest son, William, was in need of a blood platelet transfusion.
A donor saved her boy, who is now nine years old, enjoying life as every child should.
“I’m nobody special. I’m just a wife, a mommy and a teacher, and it just goes to prove that the Lord works,” Killian said. “For me to be able to step in and ease off that burden off of another parent who was sitting bedside of their critically ill child, that I could be the one to step forward.”
A little life inevitably filled with smiles and giggles, thanks to a teacher, who’s paving a bright future for the little “sunshine girl.”
“Yes, I’m going to be going through a major surgery, but you know, it’s only going to be a few weeks of my life, but to this little girl, it is her whole life,” Killian said.