For Pennsylvania substitute teacher Cindy Santos, filling in for a kindergarten class last September started just like any other assignment.
Everything changed until she met a student in the room who was facing life-threatening circumstances.
Santos was called to teach for just one day at Richmond Elementary School in Fleetwood, Pa. It was there that she met Katelynn Ernst, a 5-year-old girl suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that involves the abnormal destruction of red blood cells.
The condition causes the damaged cells to begin clogging the filtering system in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure.
Despite being so young, Ernst was heavily impacted by the disorder, spending up to 10 hours a day on dialysis while she waited for a kidney donor.
After a chance meeting in the classroom that day, Ernst remained on Santos' mind. Then, days later, the teacher stumbled upon a Facebook page supporting the little girl in her battle for a kidney transplant.
After reading the requirements for being a donor and feeling like she was a good candidate, Santos decided to take action, the Huffington Post reported.
While she was told there was only a one in 80 chance that she'd be a match, Santos was tested and found out she was. So, she made the decision to donate her kidney to her one-time student.
"There was no denying this was the right thing to do," Santos, a mother of three, told Pennsylvania's Berks-Mont News.
Both surgeries were held on Dec. 10 and were successful. In fact, Santos, who had suffered from stomach cramping before the kidney donation, ended up finding out some extremely beneficial information about her own health during the process.
"For me there was one more bonus. During the testing doctors had discovered that I had a rare medical condition -- pelvic congestive syndrome," she told NBC's "Today." "I learned that having my kidney removed not only relieved the pain, but I avoided certain surgery."
Substitute teacher Cindy Santos donated her kidney to kindergartener Katelynn Ernst. (Image source: NBC's "Today")
Both Santos and Ernst's mother, Alicia, believe that God's hand played a role in connecting the two families.
"I do believe I was put in Katelynn’s classroom," Santos told Berks-Mont News. "It’s not coincidence, it’s definitely divine intervention."
Alicia added, "We feel exactly the same way. God sent her to us."
Ernst's family is overjoyed that their daughter now has a chance at living a normal life off of machines. And Santos, too, said she's incredibly happy to see the little girl thriving following the transplant.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
Featured image via NBC