Perfect match: First grade teacher to donate kidney to 6-year-old student

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NEW BRAUNFELS, TX – Six-year-old Matthew Parker asked Santa to help find someone who could give him a new kidney.

Matt’s kidneys began failing him when he was just three weeks old, and after his body rejected one transplant, doctors gave him a 1 percent chance of finding a second donor.

With the help of University Hospital, the Parkers searched the whole country to find Matt a kidney.

“Not just anyone would submit their name,” Matt’s mother Lisa Parker says.

Little did they know, the perfect donor was in their own backyard.

“I was shocked,” Parker says with tears in her eyes.

The donor is Lindsey Painter, Matt’s first grade teacher at Hoffmann Lane Elementary in the Comal Independent School District.

“It is completely mind-blowing,” Painter says. “The coordinator of the hospital called me Christmas Eve to tell me I was a match.”

Several weeks of testing later, doctors confirmed Painter could donate her kidney – a decision she didn’t take lightly.

“I have a ten-year-old and six-year-old at home, little boy,” she says. “And I just can’t imagine having a child who is going through what Matt has gone through.”

Matt goes to school part-time to accommodate the four-hour long dialysis appointments that keep him alive. Yet, that thousand-watt smile never leaves his face.

“Once he found out that he’s getting a transplant, he’s been so giddy every day,” Parker says. “He’s been so excited.”

As Painter reads a book aloud to Matt, Parker reflects on the bond that will connect student and teacher for the rest of their lives.

“It will be a story to tell when he gets older,” Parker says. “She was selfless and just a giving person. I think it’s really a miracle.”

Doctors plan to do the surgery mid-March, and after eight weeks Matt is expected to make a full recovery.

University Hospital and Matt’s family are keeping the website they used to search for a donor open. Visit to register and potentially save a life.