You know how sometimes you hear a story that automatically makes you feel good? So much so, that you start to question your life choices, wondering if are doing all you can to help out others and make a difference in the world? Well, this is that story, folks, and it’s a real tear-jerker.
Thirteen-year-old Damien suffers from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and is in need of a kidney transplant. FSGS, for short, attacks the kidney’s filtering units which cause serious scarring that may lead to permanent kidney damage and failure. Although his name is on the top of the transplant list, unfortunately, he can’t stay there without a stable home.
Damien, who is in the foster care system, has bounced around foster home to foster home for several years, finding it difficult to stay in a place that accommodates his medical needs. Due to his diagnosis, he has also had to live in a hospital for several months because of the lack of suitable placement. Meaning the instability had kept him off the transplant list to receive a kidney donation raising the high risk of transplant failure.
While at school one day, he decided to tell his math teacher at Axl Academy, Finn Lanning, about his situation, explaining that he couldn’t attend anymore and needed to go back to the hospital. For the following weeks, Lanning would visit the seventh-grader and bring him his school work so he wouldn’t get behind. That’s when he decided to change the boy’s life by becoming a foster parent. This would help Damien secure his place on the kidney transplant list while providing him with a safe home.
Making it a point to understand all of the 13-year-old’s needs, he quickly went into training to care for Damien. This since Damien has to spend more than 12 hours every day connected to a home dialysis machine. His condition also requires him to maintain a very restrictive diet, which has placed an unexpected financial burden on the Colorado teacher.
According to Lanning, the food bill runs between $200 to $300 per week. Lanning also takes off work twice a week to care for Damien and take him to his doctor appointments. Luckily, several teachers have donated their vacation time off, which has helped the teacher financially. Community members have also stepped in to provide necessities such as bedroom furniture and have helped with some financial assistance. They have also created a GoFundMe page for both, to help them through Damien’s transplant and have raised more than $30,000 to date.
Despite the bumps on the road, Lanning stated his main priority is to provide stable housing for Damien so he can receive his new kidney, as well as adopt him down the line. I guess this just goes to show that sometimes heroes don’t wear a cape…but they do teach math.