ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Surgery went well after a college teacher offered to donate a kidney to a student she barely knew.
The two had an emotional meeting Wednesday, seeing each other for the first time since undergoing surgery two weeks ago.
Melinda Hernandez and Jennifer Adams have been texting each other about their recovery since their surgery.
Adams donated her kidney to Hernandez for a life-saving transplant operation.
“It’s just, a new beginning for me since July 9th,” Hernandez said.
Adams started out as Hernandez’ English teacher at Central New Mexico Community College last year. Now, she is family, Hernandez says.
“You can’t thank a person enough. You just can’t,” Hernandez said. “I can tell her all the time and it’s just not enough. She gave me a chance at a new life.”
Adams had her English students at the CNM campus in the Heights write personal essays and share them in class before Thanksgiving. That is how she learned both Hernandez’ kidneys had failed and she had been on dialysis for four years while waiting for a donor
“Knowing that she needed help, I’m really honored,” Adams said.
Adams had only known Hernandez for about three months when she offered to be her kidney donor.
“I was just in shock,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know what to do or how to act.”
Hernandez said her 7-year-old daughter, Giavanna, is the reason surgery was so important.
“I have to live for that little one, my daughter,” she said. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Giavanna and Adams met for the first time on Wednesday.
Turns out, they have already got a lot in common.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Adams asked Giavanna. “Teacher,” Giavanna told her.
The families said the surgery has brought them together for life.
“I thank her, and I love her very much,” Hernandez said.
She is taking some time off from school now but plans to start back up in the spring, studying psychology.
Adams will be teaching at CNM again next month.
The National Kidney Foundation said more than 100,000 Americans are waiting on a transplant match. Fewer than 17,000 get one each year.