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Monroe High School students step up for a beloved teacher

Monroe High School student body president Aimee Bell, 18, at left, and Tomacina McLendon, 16, a Monroe High 10th grader, look at a yearbook layout with their adviser, Monroe High School English teacher Kayla Losh.

Monroe High School English teacher Kayla Losh still has a hard time talking about the day her students donated their lunch money to help her save her husband’s life.

Her husband, Matt, has IgA nephropathy – an inflammatory kidney condition that forced him to need daily dialysis and a new kidney.

Doctors had told the couple that because of Matt’s rare blood type, it could take up to 10 years to find a match. That's when the first miracle happened. Kayla, 25, was a match to donate a kidney to her husband.

That surgery almost didn’t happen, however, as a problem with Medicare threatened to put the brakes on the surgery.

“On the Thursday before his surgery, the hospital told us we would need to have at least $5,000 by Monday in order to do the surgery on Wednesday,” Kayla said. “Over a seven-month period, we were able to collect $2,500 on our kidney fundraising site. Now we had to collect another $2,500 in four days.”

Kayla took the following day off from school to try to find a way to raise the money. “We talked to our insurance company and to the Social Security Office. We shared the link to our fundraising site with the school and the community.”

The couple didn’t hold out much hope, however, and were bracing themselves for the worst.

Kayla, an English teacher, junior varsity head basketball coach and yearbook adviser, is well thought of by her students, and on that Friday, they showed her just how much they cared.

Monroe High School student body president Aimee Bell, 18, started asking fellow students if they would donate money to help their beloved teacher.

"We just went up to people and told them what happened,” Aimee said. “They were just giving money out of their pockets. People were giving their lunch money. I gave my lunch money. Everybody did. They got heart."

Aimee sent a text to Kayla telling her what they were doing in an effort to lift her spirits. “Monroe High has plenty of kids from struggling families,” Kayla said. “They handed over their lunch money; some didn't eat that day – and they didn't think twice. Our kids don’t have that to give. It was incredibly overwhelming. It still is. There is nothing I can do to ever repay that to them.”

Kayla received numerous texts from students on Friday telling her they were thinking about her, but the one from Aimee stands out.

“Aimee said, ‘I know you’re having a really bad day, but we’re going to do everything we can to help you,” Kayla remembers. “We all love you.’ ”

Tomacina McLendon, 16, a Monroe High 10th grader, was one of the students who joined the effort to raise money for their beloved teacher. “The biggest response from students was that she is a really good teacher and they would give her their last dime.”

By the end of the day Friday, students had raised almost $600. “From high school students, I wasn’t expecting that much, but they came through,” Tomacina said. “It was from the heart. It was special to get that much money.”

Tomacina said these actions speak volumes about the caliber of students at her school.

“People have a lot to say about our school and the names that we get from other schools,” she said. “We’re not what everyone thinks we are. They say we have nothing, but as a whole, we do have something. We all have a voice. As a community, we have a big heart, and we know the true meaning of helping out one another. We’re 

not what they say we are, we’re more than that.”

Kayla said that the community at large, plus people from all over the country also donated to her cause and by that Monday, she saw the second miracle. When she checked the total of her fundraising site, she was astonished to see that the school, the community and other caring individuals had donated a total of $20,000.

“I just walked around and cried the whole day,” Kayla said. “It was a really emotional day. I don’t cry. It was a big deal. I still don’t even have words. It was crazy, we got money from states and people we don’t even know.”

Kayla has now returned to the classroom at Monroe High School, two months after donating a life-saving kidney to her husband. She said that Matt is doing extremely well.

“He now has a kidney that works so it’s filtering stuff out. He has so much energy it’s kind of annoying. And my body is like, ‘Wooo! What happened?’ ” she said, laughing. “He’s lost 15 pounds. He’s a completely different person.”

Kayla said at first, Matt struggled with her decision to give him one of her kidneys. “He struggled for a while. But once I told him, ‘It’s happening and I’m doing it,’ and that he had no choice in the matter, he was okay. Sometimes he’ll just look at me and say, ‘Thanks.’ He’s been cooking me breakfast a lot. It’s been nice.”

The money that the students and the community raised not only met their out-of-pocket expenses for the surgery, but the couple continues to use what was left for Matt’s ongoing medical needs.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 19, 2015 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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