A London teacher who donated one of his kidneys to a seriously ill pupil at his school was today acclaimed as a hero for giving her the “gift of life”.
Ray Coe, 53, made the decision to step in after 13-year-old Alya Ahmed Ali needed time off for dialysis treatment last summer.
The teenager has hydrocephalus, commonly known as water on the brain, which has left her with severe learning difficulties. She also suffered from renal failure.
When her mother told Mr Coe, a special needs co-ordinator at the Royal Docks Community School in Newham, that Alya would be absent from school in the summer term last year he asked how he could help.
The teacher, who has a child of his own, said: “I asked, ‘Can I put my name down as a donor?’
“I knew what being a donor meant and that there was a possibility the procedure could go ahead.
“I realised the implications and knew what I was doing. 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.”
He underwent a series of consultations and blood tests which confirmed that, despite not being related, the pair were compatible.
While a perfect match between two unrelated people is rare — at about one in 100,000 — kidneys are commonly transplanted successfully without a rejection. A transplant operation was carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital in February.
Both donor and recipient are recovering well and are expected to return to school after the Easter holiday.
Alya’s father Ahmed Ali today described the man who has given his daughter a second chance as a hero and a life-saver. Mr Ali, who lives in Stratford, added: “He has given her more than just the gift of life. He’s an amazing man, we owe him so much.”
The Royal Docks Community School’s head teacher Wendy Bower today praised Mr Coe’s intervention.
She said: “Mr Coe has gone above and beyond the call of duty with this selfless and noble act. He is a very humble and modest man. The whole staff are in admiration for his kindness.
“He has given a new life to Alya and her whole family.”
Mr Coe added: “For her parents, it’s not words that can express their gratitude. For them I have saved their daughter’s life. It’s like I am another family member now.”