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.

Editor's Picks

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.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Grand Prize Winner
Anuar Patjane Floriuk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
PHOTO: Researchers working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy identified two great white sharks on July 28, 2015.
Wayne W.Davis/Atlantic White Shark Conservancy