Student back in school, with gym teacher who gave her kidney

/ 12:08 PM May 20, 2015

DETROIT — An 18-year-old returned to her Detroit high school Tuesday with a new kidney, donated by her gym teacher.

West Side Academy senior A'Ja Booth, left, and her teacher Nadirah Muhammad enter a welcome rally for Booth at the school Tuesday in Detroit.  (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP)

West Side Academy senior A’Ja Booth, left, and her teacher Nadirah Muhammad enter a welcome rally for Booth at the school Tuesday in Detroit. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP)

Students threw confetti as A’Ja Booth entered the West Side Academy, walking arm-in-arm with Nadirah Muhammad down a red carpet in the gym. Muhammad, 39, gave Booth the kidney for transplant in December.


“I’m blessed and I’m thankful,” Booth told the students, fighting back tears.

For four years, she left school early three days a week to undergo kidney dialysis. She wrote a book about her experience, “My Dialysis Journey,” which led Muhammad to make the offer, The Detroit News reported.


Muhammad said she overheard Booth last May talking to another teacher about the book she was then writing.

“After I read her story, I immediately decided that I wanted to volunteer to donate one of my kidneys,” Muhammad told the Detroit Free Press. “If that was my child, I would want someone to do the same. It was a no-brainer.”

On Dec. 15, an operating crew at Henry Ford Hospital removed Muhammad’s kidney, placed it in a cooling solution packed in ice in a cooler and rushed it to an operating room at Children’s Hospital 3 miles (5 kilometers) away, where Booth was waiting.

Henry Ford surgeon Dr. Jason Denny transplanted the kidney into Booth.

“I’ve had a lot of combinations, but I don’t know about student-teacher,” the doctor said. “We’ve had ex-wives, and bosses and their employees.”

The transplant was a success. Booth now takes more than 20 pills day, some designed to ensure her body doesn’t reject the new organ. Booth said she is healthy and happy and looking forward to the future.

Booth, who is set to graduate June 8, said she plans to attend Oakland University and wants to be a nurse.


“We expect nothing but grand and glorious things for you,” West Side Academy’s Principal Andrea Ayler told Booth.

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