This Amazing Teacher Donated His Kidney to Save His Student's Life

A British schoolteacher offered up a major organ after one of his teenage students fell seriously ill.

Ray Coe has been hailed a hero after undergoing surgery to donate a kidney to one of his students. (Photo: Creative Commons)



Apr 5, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Liana Aghajanian is TakePart's weekend editor. Her work has appeared in,, Los Angeles Times, and

When teacher Ray Coe heard that 13-year-old Ayla Ahmed Ali needed time off for dialysis treatment last summer, he went above and beyond his educational duties by asking his student a simple question: "Can I put my name down as a donor?"

Coe, a 53-year-old special educational needs coordinator, underwent a series of tests, and it was determined that teacher and student were a match. That's pretty astounding, considering there are only one in 100,000 matches between two people who don’t come from the same family.

“I realized the implications and knew what I was doing,” Coe told the Evening Standard. “When we told Alya, she just gave me a big squeeze, and her face lit up. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of that.”

Ali suffers from hydrocephalus, a condition that causes fluid to accumulate in the brain and affect mental growth and vision. Some hydrocephalus sufferers also develop epilepsy. The condition is commonly treated with the insertion of a shunt system that diverts the liquid to another part of the body, “where it can be absorbed as part of the normal circulatory process,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The condition affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, from infants to the elderly, according to the Hydrocephalus Association.

The surgery for student and teacher took place earlier this year at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, and both are expected to return to school just after the Easter holidays.

Alya’s father, Ahmed Ali, called her teacher a “hero and a lifesaver.”

“Ray has given Alya much more than just the gift of life. He’s an amazing man, we owe him so much,” he told the paper.

The teenager now considers her teacher family, and the feeling is mutual. “For them I have saved their daughter’s life,” Coe said. “It’s like I am another family member now.”

The world needs more heroes like Coe—more than 80,000 people are on kidney transplant waiting lists, according to the Living Kidney Donors Network Mission. In simpler terms, “there are more than enough people waiting for an organ to fill a large football stadium twice over,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Kidney Chain, which pairs kidney donations initiated by a donor who offers a kidney without a designated recipient, creates an awe-inspiring opportunity to save dozens of patients in one go.

This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.