On Tuesday, one Detroit high school senior returned to classes with one special gift: a kidney, donated by one of her teachers, and thus a new lease on life, the Detroit News reports.
A'Ja Booth was welcomed back to West Side Academy in style, walking down a red carpet into the school gym, where 10 classmates and a counselor tossed confetti to greet her. Students seated in the bleachers cheered and applauded, the site notes. A'Ja walked arm in arm with a physical education and health teacher at the school—and A'Ja's donor.
"This is what we do as teachers," the 39-year-old educator, Nadirah Muhammad, said. "I did not do it for the accolades. I saw a human being in need, and if it were my child, I'd want someone to step forward and help him."
"I am really thankful and blessed," A'Ja told students as she took the microphone. "I can't thank her any more than I already have. I look at her as my second mother. She's a wonderful woman."
The principal of West Side Academy told the Detroit News that she had to push Muhammad to go public about the lifesaving gift. "Mrs. Muhammad did not want a lot of publicity, but I told her we have to tell this story," Andrea Ayler revealed. "People just don't do this. I myself would be hesitant. … I'm just so grateful to be principal of a school of educators who love children unconditionally the way Mrs. Muhammad does."
The student and teacher met after A'Ja joined Muhammad's dance class in the 2013 winter semester. A few months later, Muhammad noticed a book that A'Ja had written called My Dialysis Journey and asked if she could read it. In the book, A'Ja detailed her experience being a kidney patient who needed a transplant and having to undergo dialysis three days a week for four hours at a time. Muhammad was inspired to help and decided to consult the doctors to see if she and A'Ja were a match.
The two underwent surgery last December, and the teacher returned to work less than two months later. A'Ja is still on track to graduate June 8, pending the completion of some online courses. And her future certainly looks bright. "She had been in my dance class for about two or three months before I even knew she was on dialysis," the teacher recalled. "Now she's healthy, and it's just great to see her back in school and graduating in a few weeks."
The 18-year-old hopes to attend Oakland University and become a nurse.
"She will have a long and prosperous life taking good care of my kidney," Muhammad said.
Read more at the Detroit News.