Principal Gives Gift of Life

Today is one of the good days. Morgan Corliss, 13, feels well enough to go to school, even as she suffers from a rare kidney disease.

"I've had a fever. ... My kidneys sometimes would hurt, and I would be really tired and dizzy," Corliss said.

In just the past year, Morgan has lost 85 percent of her kidney function. This fall, doctors said she urgently needed a transplant. She has a rare kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

Morgan's mother, Caryn Corliss, said, "That was hard. And I was angry. Very, very angry that she has to feel the pain..."

But there was also immense fear that accompanied the anger. Where could Morgan find someone quickly to donate a kidney? The Franklin, N.H., family bombarded the town with fliers and radio appeals for an organ donor.

Jim Friel, the principal at Morgan's middle school, barely knew the eighth-grader, but he did not hesitate.

"I just had this overwhelming feeling," Friel said. "It's the right thing to do."

"I've spent 24 years of my life trying make a difference in the lives of kids, and if this isn't making a difference in the life of a child, I don't know what is."

Doctors told Friel to expect several weeks of pain and missed work -- sacrifices that discourage many people from becoming donors.

"There's no way I can ever thank him so that it's enough," Morgan's mother said. "She'll be able to go to those school dances. She'll be able to play outside -- do all those things and live a teenage life."

Friel is undergoing more blood tests to ensure he's a good match for Morgan. So far, all signs look promising for a transplant next month.

"I told her ... she's going to be stuck with me following her around the rest of her life because she'll have a piece of me with her," Friel joked.

For a comprehensive listing of Medicine on the Cutting Edge reports with John McKenzie, click here.

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