By Gary Walker
For years Lucy Knight lived with a condition that she kept secret, even from some of her closest friends.
The preschool teacher at Kentwood Avenue Elementary School in Westchester has autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts to grow inside the kidneys.
Knight, 43, worried she would spend her life hoping for a cure and feared she might end up on dialysis and lose her ability to teach.
But it looks like she may now have a second a second lease on life thanks to the generosity of a living donor.
Knight, whose illness has resulted in an outpouring of support from the community, has found a match in the mother of a former student — one of several prospective donors who agreed to medical tests earlier this year.
If all goes well the kidney transplant will take place in December, she said.
“I was speechless and overwhelmed with joy,” Knight said of finding the donor, who declined to be identified in this story.
Families and fellow teachers at Kentwood learned of Knight’s condition after a colleague disclosed it at the school last year.
Soon after, eight people came forward offering to donate a kidney, but until now none were a match.
Meanwhile, Westchester residents and Kentwood students began a series of fundraising efforts to help Knight offset medical-related costs.
“Lemonade for Lucy,” in which students raised money selling lemonade outside a local grocery store, and “Bike for Lucy,” in which supporters found sponsors for cycling efforts, have raised roughly $2,600 so far.
Westchester resident Odysseus Bostick, a former teacher who ran for a Los Angeles City Council seat earlier this year, cycled 100 miles for the cause after learning his kidney wouldn’t be a match for Knight.
“Since I wasn’t accepted as a donor, I thought that I could help her in other ways,” said Bostick, whose children had Knight as a teacher.
Knight “is a tremendous asset to our community,” Bostick said. “I’ve gotten to know her through the eyes of my kids and that tells me that she is worth this community effort.”
It was during a doctor’s visit 25 years ago that Knight discovered her genetic condition.
The renal disease is not necessarily fatal, but can lead to kidney failure, said Dr. S. Adam Ramin, an urologist at Saint John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica.
Ramin said about one in 1,000 people suffer from autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease but that not all patients develop the risk for total kidney failure.
Knight said she and her husband have chosen not to have children because of the hereditary disease.
“I look at my students as my own kids,” she said.
Ramin said it is common for patients in similar straits to forego having children, adopt or seek out sperm or egg donors.
“It really is a life-changing condition,” the doctor said — adding, however, that Knight has a good chance to lead a full life if her transplant is successful.
Knight said she could hardly believe all the support she is receiving from throughout the community.
“I’m still so overwhelmed by all of the attention,” the teacher said. “There are no words to describe when someone gives you a second chance at life. I feel so blessed.”
For Westchester teacher, a new lease on life: A former student’s mother is donating a kidney to keep Lucy Knight in the classroom
By Gary Walker