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EGLESTON, Ga. - A Paulding County teacher is giving the gift of life to one of his students. Kaden Koebcke, 12, has needed a new kidney for most of his life.
Tuesday, Kaden underwent a transplant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. The donor is William Wilkinson – Kaden’s 6th grade technology teacher at Grace Christian Academy in Powder Springs.
“There are no words to even begin to describe how this making me feel for Will to give this amazing gift to my son,” said Cami Koebcke, Kaden’s mother in a phone interview from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “There is no greater gift.”
Last year, Kaden’s family started a Facebook page, Kaden's Kidney Search, to find a living donor. Several people got tested.
In May, the Koebcke family learned from Kaden’s doctor a match had been made.
At the end of the school year, Wilkinson, who has a son the same age as Kaden is friends with the Koebcke family, stopped by their house.
Cami Koebcke remembered Wilkinson asking, ‘Would you like to know who the donor is?’
Of course, the family wanted to know, but strict privacy rules generally prevent hospitals from sharing personal information about donors, at least initially. Over time, donors and recipients can typically connect if both donor and recipient provide consent.
So the family responded by saying yes they wanted to know, thinking the donor could be anywhere - perhaps someone in their neighborhood or someone on the other side of the country.
Well, it’s me, said Wilkinson.
“We were all so shocked. We almost fell to the floor,” said Cami Koebcke.
Koebcke was diagnosed with a kidney disease when he was two-years-old. At age 5, he underwent a transplant, receiving a kidney from his father. But it wasn’t successful, and the new kidney had to be removed within days of the transplant.
For several years, Kaden underwent undergo dialysis at home, but as his condition grew more serious over the last couple years, he has required dialysis three times a week at a clinic.
Both surgeries were scheduled for this morning. Wilkinson, who is undergoing the surgery at a nearby hospital, will likely be off work for about six weeks.
Meanwhile, Kaden will likely spend the next 4 to 6 weeks at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.