Elementary School Teacher Ignores All The Warnings In Order To Save Her Principal’s Life
At an early age, elementary school teacher Natalie Frese overcame numerous obstacles the likes of which most of us never encounter. Her experiences early in life would contribute to the person she would become as an adult. As the years passed, she dedicated her life to teaching others and serving as a role model for multitudes of young pupils. However, after decades in her line of work, she would encounter a life-or-death situation unlike any she’d expected. She wouldn’t even think twice when it came time to act. Nonetheless, many warned her against what she was planning to do, including the person closest to her – her husband. Stuck in the middle of a seemingly impossible tug-of-wag, Natalie would do what many would never even consider.
1. Kind And Generous
Natalie (Parker) Frese grew up learning firsthand what kindness and generosity looked like and that was a trait that was instilled in her ever since she was a young girl. She took those attributes with her into adulthood and to work with her every day not knowing how she’d eventually come face-to-face with her core values in the most unexpected way.
Natalie eventually married a man named David Frese, it had been her early years in large shaped the woman she was in her work as an elementary school teacher. Natalie loved her job, but after years in the field, she’d find herself at the center of a major issue that arose at her place of work. Even as others warned her against it, she’d potentially risk her own life in order to save that of the principal of the school she worked at.
2. In The American Heartland
Natalie had been teaching for more than 25 years in fall of 2016 when she’d find herself in the unusual circumstances. However, it was a near-life-threatening event that occurred in her childhood, long before Natalie started teaching, that would help set the stage for her actions later in life.
Natalie had grown up in a large family in a small farm-town called Parkerville. She was the eldest of five siblings and was used to the responsibilities that came with her position in life. Amid her humble upbringing, though, Natalie would be shaken her to her core after disaster struck her family in the worst way possible.
3. The Worst News
Natalie was a sophomore in high school when her life was turned upside down for the first time. Her family was having dinner one night at Pizza Hut miles away from their farmhouse in early February when they received a call that would change their lives forever.
A neighbor had called because the Parker family home was on fire. Their father quickly rushed the kids into the car and raced back home to their farm. They knew that firefighters were already on their way to the house, but they wanted to get back to the farm as soon as possible to hopefully salvage what of their precious belongings that they could. It was a race against time.
4. Disaster Strikes
Time was, unfortunately, not in their favor. When they arrived at the farm, the entire house was ablaze. The Parker family had lost everything in the blaze. Every material possession that the family owned was lost in the fire, leaving them with only the clothes on their backs.
The Parker family would be forced to rebuild their home from scratch, but luckily they weren’t alone in their mission. Even though they lived in a very small town, the community took care of one another. The local population would end up rallying behind the Parker family during their time of need in the most unlikely way.
5. The Kindness Of Strangers
The community of Parkerville came forward to help Natalie’s family in their time of need, not only monetarily, but one of their neighbors even donated their home to the family while the Parkers rebuilt their home. And that was when Natalie learned a very important lesson that would carry through to another life-threatening situation later in life.
The blaze that took Natalie’s family home was a turning point for her. She was a first-hand witness to the prospect that everything can vanish in a split second. It was a lesson that she wouldn’t forget, and she’d pass on what she’d taken away from the experience to her students and children. Given everything she’d been through at a young age, those early experiences undoubtedly contributed to her to unbelievable actions during her time as a teacher.
6. Something Off
Natalie had worked at several different schools and taught a number of different grades before she finally settled into a place that she loved – teaching second grade at Tonganoxie Elementary School, outside Kansas City. She loved the work and she also loved the people she worked with. The school’s principal was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy named Ty Poell. Then 42, he was a happily married man with two children and always seemed to be in a good mood. But slowly, things started to change.
Principal Poell who used to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” over the school’s PA system, no long sang during the morning announcements, and he seemed sluggish. It was as if he never slept at nights. When the staff spoke with him, it seemed that he could barely hear them; something was off. That’s when people started to realize that something was seriously wrong with Principal Poell, then things took a turn for the worst.
7. Alarm Bells Ringing
Principal Poell’s actions started to raise red flags with the school’s staff, including second-grade teacher Natalie Frese. During some of the warmest days of the year, Principal Poell could be found outside in his truck with the heat on full blast, just trying to stay warm, even though the heat outside was extreme.
Principal Poell’s hearing kept getting worse and his skin even started to turn a yellowish color. That’s when the staff members at the school started to become very concerned that something was very wrong with their principal. Then he finally made an announcement to his staff that would shake them to their core.
8. Alport Syndrome
Principal Poell finally gathered his staff together one day, a day that they would never forget, to tell them the truth of the situation. He was suffering from a genetic condition called Alport syndrome. One of the main characteristics of the disease is the progressive loss of kidney function.
He informed Natalie and the staff that his kidneys were failing and his overall health was in severe decline. Principal Poell was in need of a kidney transplant as soon as possible if his life was going to be saved. He was in desperate need as his own kidneys were already failing terribly.
9. Pain And Suffering
To everyone’s dismay, the situation had been going on for a long time without Principal Poell telling a soul outside of his family. He was in constant pain and suffering terribly. Without anyone knowing, he informed the staff that for most of the past year, he’d spent nine hours a night on a dialysis machine at home.
His dire medical situation was also taking a huge toll on his family and children. Principal Poell barely had time to spend with his family, leaving his loving wife Jessica to take care of him and the family, putting great stress on everyone. They were worried beyond belief that they were going to lose their father and husband to the disease. At that time they couldn’t have expected how it’d all turn out.
10. Taking Its Toll
The genetic condition had already taken a huge toll on the rest of Principal Poell’s family as well. His brother had to undergo a kidney transplant to save his life, and unfortunately one of his uncles passed away from kidney failure. Principal Poell was only alerted to his condition after being rushed to the emergency room for out of control blood pressure.
Principal Poell’s wife was the most distressed about the situation but she stayed strong for her family. And she was first in line at the medical center to start undergoing the massive amounts of testing required to find out if she would be a kidney match for her beloved husband.
11. Devastating News
After some intensive testing Principal Poell’s wife finally received news back from the hospital, and it was devastating. While her kidneys were in working order, she was informed that her kidneys would not be strong enough to survive a transplant.
Jessica was heartbroken by the news. “I called my mom, left work and cried all the way home,” Jessica said. “That was a tough night.” The general waiting time for a kidney from a donor list is around three and a half years, time that her husband didn’t have. But Jessica remained resilient and wasn’t about to give up hope.
12. A Call To Action
“After Jessica didn’t get it — and there was someone else that we knew of that got about as far as Jessica was in the process and they didn’t get it — you get down a little bit,” Principal Poell said. “It’s hard to remain patient.”
After finding out that she wasn’t a donor match, Jessica decided to take matters into her own hands and turned to social media in search of anyone who would consider donating one of their kidneys. And the response was something that shocked everyone involved. People came out in droves wanting to help their friend Principal Poell, but finding a matching donor would turn out to be far harder than any of them thought.
13. A School Initiative
One after the other, donor hopefuls were rejected from being a possible match. Aware of the power of community in times of need, second grade teacher Natalie Frese even started an initiative at school for all the staff members to get tested to see if they were a possible match. Of course, Natalie herself was also tested, but the results were far from anything she’d expected.
Natalie was tested over the course of a couple weeks, going through an immense amount of tests, questionnaires about her medical history and having her blood pressure monitored on a daily basis. That’s when she was finally informed, that she was a perfect match. But then the reality of the situation started to kick in.
14. Attempted Deterrence
School teacher Natalie spent an entire day at the University of Kansas Hospital where she met with teams of different experts, including a social worker, pharmacist, financial consultant, nutritionist, a nephrologist and a surgeon. The meetings were intense and it soon became clear what their true intentions were.
According to Jessica, they were essentially trying to talk her out of the surgery. They wanted to make sure that she knew she wasn’t going to be paid for the donation, they warned her about the scarring and the immense pain that she would go through losing an internal organ. The decision was ultimately in her hands, but what would she do?
15. A Co-Worker And A Friend
Neither the scarring, the pain, nor the lack of compensation was something that bothered Natalie. She knew that she would be saving the life of not only a co-worker but of a close friend. Natalie had not yet informed Principal Poell of their match, but as Christmas neared she wanted to surprise him with the good news.
He and his wife Jessica were both over the moon with excitement and gratitude for the difficult decision that Natalie had made to donate one of her organs. However, the news wasn’t all good. There was someone very close to Natalie who didn’t want her to go through with the procedure.
16. Her Own Husband
The unexpected blowback came surprisingly from Natalie’s own husband. He wasn’t thrilled about her going through with the surgery, and very concerned about how losing a kidney would affect her own health in the long run, not to mention the possible medical risks involved with going through with the operation.
Even though Natalie’s husband David knew that people were able to live with just one kidney, he didn’t want his wife to put herself in harm’s way. Natalie understood her husband’s concerns and knew that it was coming from a place of concern for her own personal welfare, but the decision would ultimately be hers to make.
17. A Tense Day
Then, finally, the day of the surgery arrived. It was a tense day for everyone involved and Natalie sat in her hospital room along with her pastor, both of them praying for the operation to be a success. As the deadline crept closer, Natalie’s husband asked her one more time to reconsider going through with the operation.
Luckily for Principal Poell, again she refused. To Natalie, there wasn’t a second thought in her mind. She was going through with the surgery whether people liked it or not. She was presented with the opportunity to save the life of another and she was going to take it.
18. Someone In Need
In spite of David’s concerns about the surgery, he eventually came around to understand just why Natalie was going to put herself in harm’s way for someone else. Because that was the kind of person that she was, she would go to any length to help someone else in need.
Natalie’s husband David even managed to find some humor in the situation, by asking her, if God forbid something went horribly wrong, how long he should wait before getting remarried. In response, she quipped that he could do so as soon as he found someone willing to marry him. But would their playful words come back to haunt them?
Natalie checked in for surgery on the morning of March 21, 2017. The admissions clerk asked Natalie who would be receiving her kidney and she replied: “my principal, I teach second grade.” The clerk was in shock, she was bewildered that she would be donating a kidney to her own boss.
“No way I’d give my boss my kidney,” the clerk replied, adding that she had better be getting a raise with the deal. A sign above the clerk’s desk read, “If you are nervous or scared, let’s pray on it. Prayers are free and always welcome.” Only time would tell whether prayers would be enough to help Natalie and Principal Poell through what they were about to do.
20. The Ultimate Sacrifice
Both families gathered in their respective hospital rooms, everyone’s eyes were full of tears, worried to death about the outcome of the invasive procedures that was about to take place. Natalie was essentially making the ultimate sacrifice for her school’s principal, and everyone knew it.
Principal Poell’s family was beyond thankful for the enormous sacrifice that Natalie was about to make for their family. They knew that she was coming to the hospital for an operation that she didn’t need, but would undergo solely in hopes of saving him. And the result would be even more incredible than anyone could have imagined.
21. Into The Operating Room
Both Principal Poell and Natalie Frese were taken into the operating rooms around the same time. Her medical team had decided to remove Natalie’s left kidney, which she had lovingly nicknamed ‘lefty.’ The procedure was fairly quick and the second that Natalie’s kidney was removed, it was taken over a room to Principal Poell.
The surgery team was them tasked with implanting the living organ into Principal Poell’s barely surviving and sickly body. From there, only time would tell if the organ would take to the new host and whether Natalie would recuperate and if her selfless gesture would save Principal Poell’s life.
22. The Doctors Finally Emerge
After what seemed like an eternity waiting in the waiting room, each family torn apart and worried sick about their respective family member, the news finally came. The doctors emerged from the operating room to give the families a status update on both of the patients.
And thankfully it was good news all around! According to the doctors, both of the procedures went off without a hitch and both patients were expected to make a full recovery. They stated that Principal Poell’s new kidney was “producing urine like a new baby boy. ” Still, the road to recovery was not over yet.
23. Good News All Around
Principal Poell’s wife, Jessica, was over the moon. After she had been rejected as a donor, she was forced to watch her husband suffer for more than a year. His parents had also been forced to watch two of their children struggle with kidney issues. But for now, they hoped that all of that would be over.
For the Poell family, a miracle had just happened. Everyone was ecstatic. The healing process from the life-saving surgery would take far longer for the Poell’s but it was a mission that they were happy to accept. Just two days after the surgeries, Natalie was able to see Principal Poell for the first time. There would be tears all around.
24. A Heartbreaking Reunion
In the heart-wrenching reunion, Principal Poell thanked Natalie from the bottom of his heart, telling her that she would henceforth be considered a part of his family. She visited him again just 22 days post-surgery, and the changes were already apparent.
Principal Poell had made an astounding recovery, in a relatively short amount of time. After less than a month, his skin was already back to its normal color and he was talking faster than he had before. Unfortunately his hearing was permanently damaged and he would be forced to get hearing aids. Still, that seemed like a small issue in comparison to what he had faced before.
25. School Is Back In Session
As far as Natalie’s health went, according to her husband, it was slow going at first. After being on bed rest for a few days she was already able to start taking short walks up the street with her husband. Those short strolls quickly turned into multiple laps around the local park.
Before Natalie knew it, she was already back up and running after her surgery. Within just a matter of weeks, she was back teaching second grade at Tonganoxie Elementary School by April 2017. Principal Poell took a bit longer to recover but eventually returned to his position as principal until 2018.
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