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Powers Catholic High School teachers connected by faith after kidney transplant

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Powers High School kidney transplant

Two Powers Catholic High School teachers are connected by faith after a kidney transplant.

A life saving gift from one Powers Catholic High School teacher to another

During a time when so many are divided about what to believe and who to trust, two teachers from Powers Catholic High School in Flint quietly did something that would test them, their families and their faith.

One of them was facing renal failure and needed a kidney to survive.

Many believe it was divine intervention that placed the perfect donor only a few classrooms away from the recipient.

From the start, there's been a connection between Marcy Guerra-Forsleff and Courtney Childers.

"I do feel it was all part of God's plan," Childers says. 

The bond started before the two would even cross paths.

A fellow teacher at St. John Vianney Catholic School would tell Marcy about her niece, Courtney. 

A little girl who would someday grow up to give Marcy a second chance at life.

Years later, Marcy and Courtney would form their own friendship as teachers at Powers Catholic High School in Flint.

"I taught music downstairs and foreign language was above me," says Marcy.

They would travel with the Powers band and choir to Disneyworld and share many journeys in their Catholic faith.

Then, Courtney would be there for Marcy when she needed her most.

In December, I came down with COVID-19 and I ended up in the hospital," says Marcy.

"Prior to contracting COVID in December, I was struggling through chronic kidney disease and so I was at stage four.  I was not in good shape."

Marcy went on indefinite sick leave and began a grueling dialysis schedule.

"I thought to myself this cannot be the rest of my life in this chair for four hours a day three days a week."

She would need a new kidney to survive.

"People told me it will probably be someone from your family," she said. "You share the same tissue and blood types."

Marcy had plenty of family members who signed up to try and help. She is one of 14 siblings. 

Courtney also signed up, to try to help her friend.

"I just want to set the example that we help people because we can," Courtney says. 

Courtney also loved someone who never got that lifeline.

"It hit close to home because of my dad passing away with complications from kidney disease.  He didn't have a chance to start his dialysis journey. I have a matter of fact approach.  I was like what is your blood type? She said A Positive. I said, Hey! Me, too! You could have mine."

Not only did Courtney and Marcy share a blood type, their HLA, which is the code that matches tissue, was a perfect match.

Meaning, so was Courtney.

That night was a reality check for the mother of three little ones and her husband about the risks and their fears about the transplant.

"We just gave it up to God and I was a match and that's how we decided I could do it," she says. 

On July 28, the Powers Spanish teacher would donate her kidney to the school's former music director.

Two women who shared the same hallways for decades and have the same blood type, tissue and religion, were forever changed and connected by that vital organ and two intangibles with the power to heal.

Science. And faith.

"In a world right now where it seems like faith and science really struggle to communicate nicely, I think this experience has solidified you can't have one without the other, " says Courtney. 

Right after the kidney was placed inside Marcy, there was a sign that it was meant to be.

"The minute it was connected it was functioning," says Marcy. 

Marcy would never go back to dialysis.  Instead, because of this gift, she could look forward to a second chance at living.

"How do you say thank you? I haven't found a way besides our friendship, continued friendship and eating well and taking care of myself. Making myself worthy of the gift," says Marcy.

Courtney still struggles to explain how it feels to have part of her living inside someone she looks up to, leans on and loves.

"I still have goosebumps. Part of Marcy's being is that she sings. More than her beautiful voice, knowing that part of me got to help her with that and the less emotional side is that I'm awful at singing! So, I feel like I get to take a little bit of credit for it now." 

Two women. Brought together by something greater than themselves to share a journey of faith and friendship.  

A journey, that during this time of so much division and uncertainty, is inspiring countless others to come together and believe.

"I think it was meant to be," says Marcy.

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