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Teacher a perfect match for first-grader needing kidney transplant

When 6-year-old Matthew Parker's family found out he needed a kidney transplant, they launched a nationwide search for a match. But they didn't really need to look any further than his first-grade classroom.

His teacher, Lindsey Painter, turned out to be a perfect match and has agreed to be his donor.

"I knew right away that I needed to find out if I could help Matthew," Painter told KTBC-TV.

This will be the second kidney transplant for the little boy from New Braunfels, Texas. Matthew's kidneys started failing just weeks after his premature birth. He underwent his first kidney transplant in 2010, but his body later rejected the organ.

Now he has to do dialysis three days a week. "It's a full day so he only goes to school twice a week," his mother, Lisa Parker, said.

And the fact that he'd already had a failing transplant made it harder to find a match.

Dozens of people were tested before they found the match Matthew needed right there at Hoffman Lane Elementary School.

"So many people came forward trying to help him and I'm the one that gets to do it. I mean, I feel very lucky," Painter said. "He deserves to come to school every day, he deserves to play sports and run and not have the restrictions that he does."

After another round of testing, the surgery is expected to take place next month.

More than 101,000 people nationwide are in need of a kidney transplant, and the National Kidney Foundation says 12 people on the waiting list die each day. Last year, about 5,700 people received kidney transplants from living donors, who can normally go on to live a healthy life with a single kidney.

Matthew's mom says she's touched beyond words by Painter's generosity. "There's no words that can say anything because it's more than thank you, it's deeper," she said.

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