Diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis at the age of 15, Andrea struggled daily with exhaustion and excess fluid that comes with end stage liver disease. Despite these challenges, she excelled in high school and graduated with honors, earning three academic scholarships to college. Andrea continued to thrive academically at Georgia Southern University where, no surprise to her family and friends, she once again graduated with honors in 2008 and her dream of a career in teaching became a reality.
Andrea’s health deteriorated and she was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant, which she received in summer of 2011. Complications were not behind Andrea, however, and she ultimately required re-transplantation twice due to blot clots in her portal vein and bile duct respectively. Even when she was at her most ill and awaiting another transplant, Andrea continued to teach full time, hiding biliary drains underneath her clothes so her students would not realize how ill she was. Always putting her students first, Andrea scheduled doctor visits on school holidays and weekends so the students’ routines would not be disturbed with her absence.
It’s just that sort of commitment to putting her students first, above her own needs that recently earned Andrea the title of Johnson County Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. “I couldn’t believe it! It is a huge honor to represent my school,” says Andrea, who keeps busy preparing the next generation for success as a first grade teacher.
“I am so grateful to my donors and I thank God for giving me a chance to live out my dreams in the classroom,” says Andrea, “You never know what a precious gift life is until you almost lose it.”