Brothers Jeremiah and Solomon Hubbs inherited a disease called Alport syndrome that caused their kidneys to fail. Both were on dialysis in recent years, and both would need a kidney transplant.
In 2016, the Hubbs family had moved from Cleveland to Medina to be closer to Akron Children’s Hospital. At Buckeye High School, Jeremiah’s new math teacher, Alexandria Eubank, learned about his illness. She had been tutoring Jeremiah because his disease and dialysis forced him to miss a lot of school. One day, the principal called Jeremiah’s mother, Lisa, to a meeting. There, Alexandria told Lisa she wanted to donate a kidney to Jeremiah.
“I was overwhelmed,” said Lisa, a single mother. “We hadn’t been here long. She didn’t really know us.”
Alexandria said she felt deeply that God had called on her to step up, even though she was afraid because of a painful experience with back surgery.
“I had this strong desire to get tested to see if I was a match,” she said. “I knew it could only be God, because 2 years ago I had told everybody that I would never have surgery again unless I was on my death bed.”
Alexandria underwent tests that determined she was a match for Jeremiah. Right around that time, a kidney from a deceased donor became available for Jeremiah, so he no longer needed Alexandria’s kidney. Jeremiah underwent a successful transplant in 2017.
Meanwhile, Solomon, who had started dialysis that year, was placed on the transplant list. Without hesitation, Alexandria offered to be tested again.
It turned out she was a match again.
Solomon, 11, also has sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disease, which made his case more complicated, said Dr. Shefali Mahesh, director of pediatric nephrology at Akron Children’s. The fifth grader required exchange transfusions to replace his sickled red blood cells, and other treatments before he could receive a new kidney.
After several months of evaluations and preparation, Solomon received Alexandria’s kidney in May 2018.
“When Solomon was ready for a kidney transplant, (Alexandria) stepped up,” Dr. Mahesh said. “God bless this lady. They don’t make people like that any more.”
Alexandria spent 4 days in the hospital. She described a swell of emotions as she prayed for success.
“It’s hard to put into words. It’s amazing to know that it’s possible an organ of mine is in somebody else and making him live,” she said.
Solomon’s transplant was among 6,849 living donor transplants in the United States last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Doctors and patients hope more people like Alexandria will consider living organ donation. Around 113,000 people are waiting for a transplant, UNOS reports.
The transplants have vastly improved the lives of Jeremiah and Solomon.
“Before, I couldn’t do a lot of stuff. Now I have more energy and can do more things,” said Jeremiah, who is in the culinary program at the Medina County Career Center.
Dr. Mahesh said young patients on dialysis spend many hours a week connected to a machine that cleans their blood. They suffer not just physically, but emotionally and intellectually. Their cognitive abilities decline.
“A transplant is life-changing in so many ways,” she said. “They eat better, they sleep better, their grades improve and their growth improves.”
They gave me more insight, they explained things and took the time to talk with me and listen to my concerns,” she said.
Dr. Mahesh, she said, “didn’t make me feel uncomfortable if I asked a lot of questions or asked the same question again because I didn’t understand.”
Lisa keeps in close contact with Alexandria.
“I can never repay her or what she sacrificed for an African American family she barely knew for a year,” Lisa said.
Watch News 5 Cleveland’s segment about them: