Brittany Perschbacher, a second-grade elementary school teacher in Missouri, has been giving one of her students, Hayley Justason, plasma transplants that may save her life.
Over the last few months, the 9-year-old has been receiving plasma from her Missouri Virtual Academy teacher, despite only having met her through online e-learning. Hayley Justason was born with two holes in her heart, a condition that has her awaiting multiple organ transplants. Brittany Perschbacher’s donated plasma has been giving Hayley time by keeping her alive.
“If any of my students needed anything, I would do what I could for them,” Brittany Perschbacher told local NBC News affiliate KSDK. “Hayley needed me, so here I am.”
“If I didn’t do this, would Hayley still be here today? I don’t think about that because it breaks my heart,” Perschbacher said of the second grader.
According to the family’s GoFundMe page, Hayley has had 15 surgeries throughout her lifetime already, and it currently waiting on an organ donor list. She needs a new heart, liver, and kidney, and all the surgeries will have to be paid out of pocket since the family has already maxed out their health insurance plan.
As of Monday, the family has raised over $1,500 for Hayley Justason.
“When we got told that in November that Hayley needed a heart, we didn’t know where we were going to end up,” Shelley Justason, Hayley’s mother, told NBC News. Hayley, chiming in, added that, “they didn’t know if they were going to lose me.”
Her teacher, Brittany Perschbacher, heartbreakingly lost her grandfather to Covid-19 earlier this year, and had learned about how donating plasma could prolong someone’s life.
“It meant so much,” Shelley Justason said. “Brittany was giving us another day, another minute, another hour.”
“Another future for me,”Hayley added. Due to her condition, Hayley spends time at the Children’s hospital at least once a week, and does charity work for the Ronald McDonald House. Those close to her say that she never complains, despite suffering from near-critical diabetic and heart conditions.
In a process that takes over an hour and half each month, Brittany has been amazingly donating her plasma to Hayley, and is currently researching even more potentially life-saving options.
“I told Shelley, ‘If she can accept my plasma, I know you can do living donors for kidneys,” Brittany recalled. The Missouri teacher is considering donating her kidney to give Hayley even more time as she awaits a heart transplant.
“Adults can donate to kids,” she told Shelley Justason. “Let’s try to get me tested because if my plasma works, then maybe just maybe my kidney will work.”
“We’re bonded for life and I’m not giving up on her,” Brittany Perschbacher continued. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this girl, and the crazy thing is we’ve never even met in person, so it just shows the kind of bond and relationship you can get with somebody.”
Hayley and her family are expected to receive an update on her upcoming heart surgery. According to her parents, she will be facing a 10-hour heart surgery next month to fill the two holes in her heart, one by the aorta and the other by the left ventricle. She also has a tumor near her brain.
Her mother Shelley thanked everyone for their ongoing support as they try to pay for transplants from the organ donor list.
“There’s never gonna be enough words to say ‘thank you,'” Shelley Justason said of her teacher’s selfless donations. Brittany is hoping that following testing, they will prove to be a match for the kidney transplant.