Teacher’s kidney donation, a perfect match for student

(WBAY) – For Jodi Schmidt, teaching is a perfect match.

“Children are really fun,” she says. “There’s like a spark in their eye.”

Of all the kids at Oakfield Elementary School, it’s the spark in Natasha Fuller that changed her life.

Natasha tells us, “When I see Mrs. Schmidt every day, she smiles, and I smile too, and I give her a hug.”

Schmidt says about Natasha, “She’s really sick and you can’t tell she’s really sick. When I told my kids in my classroom, they were floored.”

You would never know this chatty, energetic eight-year-old was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease as a toddler.

“She wants to go swimming and she can’t, things like that that a lot of families take for granted that she can’t do,” says Mark Burleton, Natasha’s grandfather.

Natasha recently moved in with her grandparents to get treatment in Milwaukee three times a week.

In August, she was put on a list to get a kidney transplant. On average, a person waits more than three years to get a match.

Chris Burleton, Natasha’s grandmother, says, “They gave me a pager, and I kept it with me wherever I went, waiting for it to go off. I even slept with it.”

It was Christmastime, when Jodi Schmidt realized she wanted to be that match.

“I always felt like there was more in life that I should be doing,” says Schmidt.

She went through tests, to find she and Natasha share a blood type and other qualities that could make a transplant successful.

On Friday, she broke news to the family.

“She’s a tough little girl and she deserves this,” says Chris. “She’s been through a lot.”

The transplant is not scheduled yet. Natasha is still getting over an infection.

But in the meantime, the eight-year-old is dreaming of life after.

“I can swim, I can eat chocolate,” says Natasha, as she makes her own gift for Mrs. Schmidt: a drawing of the two of them surrounded by hearts.

The two say they are already closer than ever.