High school drama teacher meets doctor who donated kidney, saving his life

A drama teacher in South Carolina who received a kidney transplant from an anonymous donor recently had the chance to personally thank her for saving his life.

Ed Hall, who teaches at Cane Bay High School in Summerville, had suffered from kidney disease since the age of 19. He learned shortly after returning from his honeymoon in 2018 that, at the age of 34, he was going into kidney failure and that he’d need a transplant soon.

Hall underwent the surgery in June at the MUSC University Hospital in Charleston, where he received a kidney from an anonymous living donor in Montana.

“I feel fine. I get up every day early and I want to do something,” Hall told ABC News Charleston affiliate WCIV-TV.

In a recent letter to his anonymous donor, he thanked the person who’d saved his life.

“You’ve affected so many lives with your selfless and incredible donation,” he said. “I’ll never be able to thank you enough but I would really love to talk with you and I would really love to meet you.”

On Aug. 10, Hall’s wish came true. Dr. Staci Lee, 41, of Montana, who had donated her kidney to Hall, flew with her husband and young daughter to meet Hall and his wife, Jessica.

“I want her to be excited that she did what she did. … I want her to be proud of where her kidney went,” Hall said before meeting Lee.

The Halls and Lees spent the day together and also toured Hall’s beloved Cane Bay High School, where Lee met his wife, family and friends, as well as his drama students.

“I just want you to know that I want you to be free to live your life how you want to live it and that brings me the most joy to be able to look at you and see how well you’re doing and just know that you have your whole future ahead of you,” Lee told Hall.

The entire moment was first triggered by a selfless act from Hall’s co-teacher Taryn Hoyt. When Hall learned that he needed a new kidney last year, Hoyt quickly offered to donate hers, but it wasn’t a direct match.

So instead, the two joined the National Kidney Registry, with Hoyt becoming a bridge donor and donating her kidney to a stranger. That move would ensure that Hall would also get an organ from a stranger. Hoyt broke the news to him at his house last year as Hall and his wife broke down in tears.

“I know that a lot of Eddie’s family is not here — and that they’re invested in this — so I made the video so that he could share it with his family that he was going to get a kidney,” she told WCIV-TV in May.

In June, Hall and Hoyt both had their surgeries at MUSC University Hospital. She went after Hall, donating her kidney as part of the donation chain.

“It was definitely rough for a while but I made sure I was really in shape beforehand so that definitely helped because I was able to spring back pretty quick after the first couple of weeks,” she told WCIV-TV.

During the reunion Aug. 10, the Halls, the Lees, Hoyt and members of the school-drama community greeted each other with hugs and some tears.

“Sometimes it’s easy to be [dragged] down by some of the things you hear going on in the country or in the world, [but] you realize that there are good things too,” Lee told WCIV-TV on Aug. 10. “I really wanted to be a part of something so beautiful and so good.”

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