A year ago, Dave Collins was living a busy life as a husband and father, teaching masonry at Essex Tech in Danvers. But on April 15, 2022, everything came to a halt after meeting with his doctor.
"She found that I was in end-stage renal failure," he told NBC10 Boston.
It was Stage 5 kidney failure and Collins needed a kidney transplant.
"It could be six to seven years. Right. Right. Before you got a kidney donated." It could take too long.
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Collins' daughter Shelby, who also works at Essex Tech, did everything she could to find her dad a kidney, starting with a social media campaign. It was shared by thousands.
"I had people across the country that I didn't even know reaching out to me saying, 'Hey, I'm your father's blood type. I want to test how do I sign up?'"
They found matches, but donating organs is complicated. Even one issue and the surgery is canceled. But on February 6 they finally found a perfect match - and it turns out they didn't have to go far.
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The donor worked in the same building, and happened to be their boss.
Superintendent Heidi Riccio kept it a secret from Dave until they were sure it was a match. On February 21, Dave got a kidney. He returned home and has seen his health improve immediately.
"To give up part of herself for me. But that's how it goes beyond words," Dave said.
The goal now is to get back to teaching in April.
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