(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Students at an area high school have gotten into the spirit of the holidays by helping one of their teachers in need of a life-saving gift.
Benton High School Art Teacher Andy McEachron said he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when he was 25-years-old. He described the disease as cysts that form on the kidneys causing them to enlarge, which could lead to kidney failure.
"Recently the symptoms have been pretty frequent, and so it's gotten worse and it's kind of just affected my energy levels and I get fatigued and things like that," McEachron said.
Throughout his five-year teaching career at Benton, McEachron said he's always been open and honest with his students through battling the illness.
"I love working here and it's hard because sometimes I feel really, really ill," McEachron said. "So, it's hard to try and stay motivated and be in a good mood for the kids."
But his students, including Benton Junior Sydney Brown, said they appreciate his honesty, and describe him as a caring, supportive and encouraging educator.
"He's a really great teacher, probably one of the best you'll ever get," Brown said. "It would be really sad to not get [him] the help that he needs."
McEachron said he's in stage five, or the end stage, and has a kidney function of roughly 13 percent. His best chance for survival is a living donor.
"I'm on the list at St. Luke's. I'm basically just waiting at this point. I've been on the list since February," McEachron said.
Earlier this month, a post was created on Facebook by one of McEachron's family members spreading the word about his needing a donor. It's been shared over a hundred times, mostly by his own students.
"It's really amazing to know that there are a lot of kids [at Benton] that care," Brown said. "They're really putting forth the effort to try and get someone that [they] love as a teacher get something that they need."
Last Christmas, the students had started a GOFundMe Page to help McEachron with medical costs, something he said we didn't know about and never saw coming. They ended up raising about $2,000.
"I was a little overwhelmed emotionally," McEachron said. "I had no idea that they would go to that length to do that, so it just meant the world to me to know that they care as much as they do."
McEachron is B-, but is also compatible with A2, B2, and O blood types. If you're interested in donating, you're asked to contact Tracy, Independent Donor Advocate, at (816) 932-2214. Click here for a link to the living kidney donor form.