The Daily Iowan

A Mason City father received kidney from son’s teacher

A father from Mason City received a kidney from his son’s preschool teacher thanks to a June 1 operation at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Nancy+Bleuer%2C+a+preschool+teacher+at+Washington+Charlie+Brown+Preschool+and+Childcare+in+Mason+City%2C+discuses+her+experience+of+donating+her+kidney+at+the+UIHC+on+Wednesday%2C+June+14.+Bleuer+offered+to+donate+to+the+father+of+one+of+her+students.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FHieu+Nguyen%29
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A Mason City father received kidney from son’s teacher

Nancy Bleuer, a preschool teacher at Washington Charlie Brown Preschool and Childcare in Mason City, discuses her experience of donating her kidney at the UIHC on Wednesday, June 14. Bleuer offered to donate to the father of one of her students. (The Daily Iowan/Hieu Nguyen)

Nancy Bleuer, a preschool teacher at Washington Charlie Brown Preschool and Childcare in Mason City, discuses her experience of donating her kidney at the UIHC on Wednesday, June 14. Bleuer offered to donate to the father of one of her students. (The Daily Iowan/Hieu Nguyen)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Hieu

Nancy Bleuer, a preschool teacher at Washington Charlie Brown Preschool and Childcare in Mason City, discuses her experience of donating her kidney at the UIHC on Wednesday, June 14. Bleuer offered to donate to the father of one of her students. (The Daily Iowan/Hieu Nguyen)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Hieu

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Hieu

Nancy Bleuer, a preschool teacher at Washington Charlie Brown Preschool and Childcare in Mason City, discuses her experience of donating her kidney at the UIHC on Wednesday, June 14. Bleuer offered to donate to the father of one of her students. (The Daily Iowan/Hieu Nguyen)

Marissa Payne, [email protected]

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An Iowa educator gave Darreld Petersen the gift of a lifetime for Father’s Day earlier this month.

Nancy Bleuer, 54, a preschool teacher at Washington Charlie Brown Preschool & Childcare in Mason City, donated a kidney to Petersen, 34, after undergoing a transplant operation at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on June 1.

Through a family member of the Petersens, Bleuer learned Petersen — whose 4-year-old son, Camden, is one of her students — had been diagnosed with renal kidney failure in the late fall of 2016, and the diagnosis seemed “grave” to Bleuer.

The Mason City teacher said she felt that helping her student’s family would be an admirable thing to do, so she volunteered to be tested as a potential donor.

After learning she was a match, Bleuer said, she shared the good news with Petersen. He came to pick his son up from the preschool one day during naptime while a sleepy-eyed Camden was gathering his belongings when she made the announcement.

“He gives Camden this hug from heaven, and Camden’s like, ‘Wow, dad is happy to see me,’ ” she said.

Petersen said he was reluctant to be too optimistic upon learning Bleuer would be his kidney donor after previously finding matches that never panned out.

“You could go the day of the transplant, and you could end up not getting it,” he said. “… It took a little bit for it to sink in.”

The Petersens took Bleuer out to lunch the day prior to the surgery to show her their gratitude, she said.

“If this would ever be my child that needed something, you know, I’m right there; I’m in your shoes, I understand,” she said. “God forbid, but if my grandchild or child needs something, I hope somebody steps up, and what you do comes back to you.”

Zoe Stewart Lewis, the head of the UIHC’s donor transplant team, said when she learned about the tale behind the transplant operation, the bond between Petersen and Bleuer was one she understood immediately.

“Sometimes in the situations where patients aren’t related, you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, it’s pretty amazing that you want to share a kidney,’ ” she said. “… Having two children in preschool, I understood this and why she didn’t hesitate to look into getting more information about being the donor.”

Although undergoing an operation is never something a person wants to do, Petersen said, the nurses and others at UIHC made the experience a good one — so positive, in fact, that he said he would do it all over again.

“She’s a part of my family for the rest of her life whether she likes it or not,” he said. “The Iowa City team is a part of my family. Everything’s just been amazing, and I hope everyone has the same experience I had.”

Father’s Day was celebrated with movies and a trip to the park — basically anything Camden wanted to do, Petersen said, but the day was not about him; instead, it was about the people who were there for him and allowed him to be there for Camden.

All there is to do now is live a good life to let Bleuer know her sacrifice was worthwhile, Petersen said.

“Aside from my son, obviously, it’s the next best Father’s Day gift you could ever ask for,” he said. “She’s given me the opportunity to be able to be here and to be able to see my son graduate, watch him grow, and it means the world to me.”

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Marissa Payne, Managing Editor


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @marissa42_

Marissa Payne is the Managing Editor of The Daily Iowan. She started working at the DI her...

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