Joan Austin Elementary's Carolyn Davidson moved to become an organ donor after hearing teacher's story

When Joan Austin Elementary fifth grade teacher Carolyn Davidson's youngest daughter needed a blood donation as a baby, an infection prevented her from becoming a donor.

Being unable to help her own child really bothered her, so the idea of helping someone else instead has remained in the back of her mind. SUBMITTED PHOTO - Newberg teacher Carolyn Davidson meets Sherwood teacher Sarah Holtz for the first time in August at Sherwood High School. Davidson surprised Holtz, who suffers from kidney disease and renal failure, with the news that she would be donating one of her kidneys in a surgery that is scheduled for Oct. 30.

When colleague Missy Love became a kidney donor in 2014, Davidson realized she might be open to giving one of her organs to someone in need.

In the meantime, Love had become a vocal advocate for kidney donation, often sharing the stories of people in need of a transplant on Facebook and offering herself as a resource to anyone who may have questions.

Over the summer, Love posted about Sherwood teacher Sarah Holtz, who found out at age 30 that she had kidney disease and has been spending as much as 12 hours a night on dialysis for nearly two years in order to continue serving as an English language development teacher.

"Her whole life has had to change, like no social life because she goes home every day after work and has to hook up and does dialysis all through the evening and night," Holtz's colleague Angi Muckey said. "Her dad passed away last year so they also dealt with that terrible loss in the middle of all this. She's just had a lot of trials since being sick and she's really maintained a positive outlook when a lot of people wouldn't have."

That was enough for Davidson, who reached out to Love to find out about the process and decided to get tested to see if she was a match. She is and transplant surgery has been scheduled for Oct. 30.

"I'm very proud of her and it's actually made us grow closer as friends as well because we have that connection," Love said. "I'm proud of her for standing up and being that person for Sarah. I'm excited for Sarah. Just to see how her life will be changed for the better is going to be amazing."

Davidson and Love decided they wanted to surprise Holtz with the good news. To do that, they connected with Muckey, a middle school teacher in Sherwood and a mutual friend who had initially informed Love of Holtz's situation. She arranged for a standup staff meeting to be held as the subterfuge so that Davidson could give the news to Holtz in person.

"Carolyn's thing was that she wanted to honor the school setting because they've been very supportive of Sarah, but that she also didn't want it to be an assembly in front of everybody," Muckey said.

The meeting was held during teacher in-service week prior to the start of classes, with Davidson, Love, Muckey, Holtz's parents and anyone else whose presence at the staff meeting might ruin the surprise, hiding in a storage closet.

After saying a few words, Sherwood High School principal Ken Bell knocked on the door and Davidson emerged and approached Holtz with a sign reading "Will You Be My Kidney Sister?" before the two embraced.

"To see somebody give so much to a total stranger was amazing," Muckey said. "Missy felt so passionately and strongly about sharing her experience that it would never have happened without her being so generous herself and so willing to share her story. It's life changing to do that for somebody."

Holtz said she was caught completely off guard and added it has changed her outlook so now she can see an end to her pain and suffering, a light at the end of the tunnel now that a donor has been found.

"It's been a long time waiting," Holtz said. "It definitely brought some relief because my body is really done with having to teach and do dialysis."

The surgery was originally scheduled for December, but knowing that Holtz's health was declining, Davidson requested that it be moved up.

She said she hasn't been anxious about the surgery, in part because she's never had any surgery performed on her before and therefore doesn't know quite what to expect.

"She's only a few years younger than me, so it was more that I just made a new friend," Davidson said. "We'll just have a deeper connection than most people have."

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