Your Health: Teacher Gives 'Greatest Lesson'

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Story Updated: Jul 5, 2013

Sackets Harbor Spanish teacher Jennifer Berie has taught perhaps her greatest lesson by giving a former student the gift of life.

Sackets Harbor school is practically in the front yard of the Thompson family's home and Berie has become like family.

A month ago she donated a kidney to Todd and Tina Thompson's 23 year old son, Nicholas.

Berie decided to try to help when Nick was close to needing dialysis and his mother, who also works at the school, learned she couldn't be a donor.

"I just couldn't imagine it," Berie said. "If that were my son and I couldn't donate. I don't know what I would do."

"So it was really the maternal part of me versus the teacher part of me."

They were a perfect match. The transplant surgery on June 4 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester went off without a hitch and both donor and recipient are following doctor's orders and doing great.

"I can't tell you the last time I felt this good," Nicholas Thompson said. "I've got more energy. Everything just seems like it's coming together.
 
It was a lesson in giving taught by this 43 year old wife and mother of three. She has forged a lifetime bond with her former student, who has battled kidney problems since he was a child. 

Nicholas and his family are eternally grateful and now consider her one of them.

"Someone doing something like that," Nicholas said, "and just the respect I have -- take care of the gift she's given me."

"If you can give to someone without it impacting your life in a negative way, I can't imagine why you wouldn't," Berie said.

Nicholas just got the doctor's okay to ride his bike again and he can't wait to get back on the golf course.
 
After being given a second chance, he takes nothing for granted.

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