By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities P.E. teacher is starting the school year by sharing a personal health lesson of her own.

Jayme Simon donated a kidney last month to save a stranger — a generous gesture, years in the making, that is also serving as a teaching moment for her students.

For 16 years she’s been teaching girls to better care for themselves and others as the gym and health teacher at Visitation in Mendota Heights. Now, it’s Mrs. Simon’s selfless donation inspiring others beyond the classroom.

“It’s kind of out there — I did something for somebody,” Simon said. “Yeah, it just it feels good.”

When a friend went into kidney failure a few years ago, Simon first considered donating. That friend recovered, but after the death and organ donation of another friend’s daughter, Simon knew it was time.

“It was kind of, again, that thing in the back of my head that I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I should give this gift,” she said.

Simon decided on what’s called the “paired shared donation” program this summer.

“To go as big as I could, to help as many people as I could with one kidney,” she said.

Simon matched a 67-year-old man she never met in Pittsburgh. Since none of his relatives were a match, one of them would donate a kidney to a stranger waiting the University of Minnesota as a token of solidarity for Simon’s gift.

“It’s creating a chain, and I think the record in the United States is 87,” Simon said.

Simon had the successful surgery last month at the University of Minnesota, showing her students what it really means to make a difference.

“There’s so many ways to share your gifts with the world, and she was able to do that,” Simon’s student Lily Finn said.

There are currently more than 120,000 people waiting for a kidney across the country. Women in their 30s and 40s are found to be the most common donors.

For more information about living organ donation, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing online.


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