When 4-Year-Old Student Admits To Problems At Home, This Teacher Became His Hero

 

A Well-Loved Teacher

Down in Mason City, Iowa, there lives an incredible woman named Nancy Bleuer. At the age of 54, she’s been teaching children aged 3 to 5 for over 25 years at Washing Charlie Brown Preschool. Even before she became famous for one of the world’s greatest deeds ever, parents of her students would comment constantly on her kindness and great behavior with kids. The parents of her students felt like they would never hesitate to ask Nancy for help with parenting. But for one parent, it was Nancy who asked him to let her help.

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A Well-Loved Teacher
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Her Passion For Children

When Nancy decided to become a teacher, she knew that helping kids learn about the world and realize their potential was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. And almost 30 years later, she has had quite a successful career doing just that. Her knack for understanding what life looks like through the eyes of a child is a gift that anyone who knows her can see plain as day. But, not every child’s life looks the same.

Her Passion For Children

Many Kids, Many Stories

One thing’s for sure: life throws different curveballs in each person’s life, and some of these can be incredibly hard for children to deal with. As a teacher, Nancy interacts with dozens of kids every day, and different kids each year. That means she’s likely to deal with all kinds of their problems, too. Most of the time, these are things she can’t help with except to offer love and empathy. But every now and then a situation can be much more serious.

Many Kids, Many Stories

One Student Stood Out

When Camden came to school one day in somber spirits, Nancy had a feeling it was going to be one of those times. Camden is one of her students. At just four years old, she knew him to be a usually bright and happy kid, booming with energy all the time. It’s not uncommon for young boys at that age, of course. But Camden had a special enthusiasm for life – the kind that a teacher can’t help but notice.

One Student Stood Out

Something Was Wrong

One day, Nancy noticed that he had begun to come in much less happy. He hadn’t quite been himself for a few weeks at this point – but on that day, he could barely hold it together. Nancy knew something was really wrong. She stayed close to him during the day, hoping he would open up to her, but by the end of the day he was still silent – so she asked him to stay after class. That’s when Camden told her that his dad’s life was at stake.

Something Was Wrong

A Terrifying Scene

Camden had recently watched his dad get raced to the hospital. As strangers in uniforms attended to him, their concern over Darreld’s health couldn’t be hidden from even someone so young. They were scared, but Camden was terrified – even though he didn’t know what any of it meant. When they got to the hospital, the doctor told Darreld that his kidneys had failed. Yet, this wasn’t the first time Darreld had been given new that his kidneys weren’t in perfect condition.

A Terrifying Scene

The Diagnosis Was Life-Threatening

His doctor had diagnosed him with Berger’s disease, which causes kidney deterioration, more than five years earlier – when he was only 26 years old. The disease is irreversible, so after being diagnosed he understood that his condition would only get worse, and it was just a matter of time before his kidneys would fail completely. Of course, his biggest fear was not his kidney failure – but his failure as a father. For Camden, watching the progression of his dad’s health into something that might ultimately make him disappear from Camden’s life had been unbearably painful and confusing.

The Diagnosis Was Life-Threatening

Treatments Weren’t Enough

For a while, Darreld had been receiving treatments at the hospital – but they required him to spend hours there each day. They were more than he could afford. And worst of all, it would only work temporarily. What Darreld really needed was a new kidney. But he was placed on a waiting list with over 100,000 other names before his. The treatments would only be able to keep him alive for so long…and it was looking like the transplant he needed would take a lot longer.

Treatments Weren’t Enough

Efforts Amounting To Nothing

Darreld’s family and friends were very supportive: a great number of people volunteered their own kidneys, went through tests, and surrounded him with love and encouragement. But in the end, no one was a match. The situation was looking worse by the day. And the feeling couldn’t be hidden from little Camden. He tried hard to be strong for his dad, but after months went by with no good news, it became too much for his young son to bear.

Efforts Amounting To Nothing

Weighing The Options

Nancy couldn’t have been more certain that something serious was going on that was causing little Camden’s spirit to break like this. But she found herself at a difficult crossroads between her want to help, and her professional responsibilities. Was it appropriate to pry into Camden’s personal life? Was she emotionally ready to handle the information he told her? And worst of all – what if something horrible was wrong, and she couldn’t help?

Weighing Her Options

Her Choice Was Made

As she battled inside to make a decision, she realized that her empathic side had already won. Whether or not she could help, she knew she needed to be there to support Camden in whatever he was going through. She would ask first, and figure out what to do with the answer after. Sweet kid that he is, Camden was all too grateful to have someone invite him to share his story and feelings. But Nancy wasn’t nearly as ready for his answer.

Her Choice Was Made

Carrying A Huge Burden

With his eyes on the ground, Camden told her that his dad was in trouble because of health, and that he was worried he wouldn’t have a father anymore soon. Knowing there was no easy solution, had decided the best possible option was managing the truth – so that Camden would be best prepared for the future. Nancy was amazed and horrified that such a young child was carrying such difficult information around on his shoulders every day.

Carrying A Huge Burden

Nancy Wants To Help

Camden went on to explain his father’s diagnosis as best as a little boy could – essentially explaining that his kidney was “broken,” and that he might not have a daddy for much longer. Nancy couldn’t bear to think about him having to face the rest of his long life without a father. She knew that there was only one thing that she might be able to do to help…so she promptly began researching the options for a kidney donation.

Nancy Wants To Help

Doing The Research

What Nancy found is that kidney donation is quite complicated, and a successful transplant requires many health components to align. She saw that in order to find out if her kidney was compatible with Darreld’s, she would have to undergo many blood tests and more. But she was completely willing to do what she had to do for her sweet student. To Nancy, a saved life was well worth the cost of a kidney and a bit of her time.

Doing The Research

The Results Came Back

The process of testing was a long one, and waiting for results wasn’t easy for anyone. Darreld was getting used to waiting, though. He’d already had one transplant offer fall through. But he was hesitant to let his family’s hopes – or even his own – get high, just to be crushed again. But after months of waiting with Darreld still standing strong, Nancy finally got the news they were all waiting for: they were a perfect match!

The Results Come Back

A Perfect Match

Even today, Nancy says that upon finding out that she would ultimately have the opportunity to donate her kidney to Darreld, she didn’t second guess her decision for even one moment. It didn’t feel like any kind of burden to her, or something beyond her means. In fact, she actually felt lucky to be able to help. As she woke Camden up from a nap to tell him the news, he hugged her tighter than any student of hers ever had before and began to cry.

A Perfect Match

A Deeper Gratitude

His understanding was clearly much deeper than just his father’s life being saved – he even seemed to grasp the extraordinary kindness Nancy was capable of. It just goes to show that acts of kindness are about more than just what someone can do for other people; they touch on a part of us all that can believe in a better world. But even though the light at the end of the tunnel was in sight, the family’s wait for their solution wasn’t yet over.

A Deeper Gratitude

Forced To Wait Longer

Even though Nancy been cleared as a match for Darreld, she needed to go through more tests still. This time, the tests were for her own health – to ensure that her body would be able to handle losing a kidney. It is prohibited for people who aren’t in a healthy enough condition themselves to be organ donors. So if Nancy was determined unfit for any reason, the transplant couldn’t happen. Nancy couldn’t bear the thought of the family having their hopes let down yet again.

Forced To Wait Longer

A Bucket List With A Twist

Nancy’s eagerness to help may seem a bit extreme, and the truth is – there’s a reason! Everybody has a bucket list, and Nancy is no exception. And at the top of that list? Donating an organ. As it turns out, years ago Nancy witnessed a transplant between two friends that saved one of their lives. It was the single most inspiring moment of her life, and she knew that she needed to pay it forward to someone else during her lifetime.

A Bucket List With A Twist

No Guarantees

However, she didn’t know at the time how many different factors have to align for this deed to even be possible. Even after all of the blood work determines a match, and the health of both parties is stable enough to survive the operations, there is no guarantee the transplant will be a success. For kidney transplants in particular, only 50-60% are successful. But Nancy truly hoped that this was her chance to save a life – and Darreld was willing to try anything.

No Guarantees

Heading Into Surgery

After another long month, both Nancy and Darreld were finally cleared by the hospital to proceed with the transplant. When the day rolled around, their friends and family held their breaths as the operations began at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Miraculously, the surgery was successful – and the pair were allowed to return home after just one week of recovery. With a whole new life ahead of him, Darreld was determined to make sure that Nancy stayed in their lives for good…

Heading Into Surgery

Grateful For His Life

It may have been years in advance, but Darreld invited Nancy to be by their side at Camden’s eventual graduation. As he put it, “How do you thank someone for saving your life?” But selfless acts like hers happen more often than many of us think. With the rise of the internet, altruistic stories have taken it by storm. Access to so much bad news has made people need more reassurance than ever that humanity is in fact good. But why?

Grateful For His Life

A New Outlook

Seeing the good in others helps people see the good in themselves. But people like Nancy, who see an opportunity to do something good and don’t let anything or any doubt get in their way, are the warriors we need to lead us. Not everyone will have the chance to save a life like Nancy did – but even in the face of a problem this frightening, she was fearless. And her strength is an inspiration to us all to face life’s opportunities the same way.

A New Outlook

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