For Rosalynn Gresham, it has become an all too familiar spot.

"Physically, I'm being drained and tired," the 33-year-old from Hampton says about the dialysis appointments she makes three times a week.

Asked when she gets restless during her appointments, Gresham said, "I'm ready to get out when I'm in the lobby."

But the next day, Gresham will be in a different chair -- in a criminal justice class at Clayton State. And her best hope right now at a new kidney that will ultimately save her life: her professor, Dr. Sarah Stein.

"I mean, this is an extreme case of trying to help a student," Stein said, "but if you can, you should."

For Gresham, just standing tall after more than a decade of adversity is a victory in itself. At 17 years old, she was diagnosed with lupus, an immune disorder that attacks the organs and has no cure.

"I found myself just sad and depressed," she said. "For me to try to accept it at that age was really hard."

But accept it, she did. A year after her diagnosis, Gresham graduated high school; four years after that, she graduated pre-law from Georgia State. She took jobs and got married, but she got sicker, as well. Last January her kidneys shut down, and she had emergency surgery; for three days, she fell into a coma.

Since then, she has been stuck on dialysis.

Dr. Stein has a dynamic story as well: a professor who just received her doctoral degree and is teaching in college at 29 years old.

Of her student in need, she says, "She's extremely bright, she's extremely driven to do what she wants to do, and she has a zest for life that is unbelievable."

In those shared qualities of drive and zest, Dr. Stein reacted to Gresham's story by raising her hand and offering to be a match.

Gresham's reaction? "At some point I asked her, 'I know we're teacher-student, but can I at least give you a hug?'"

"I at least wanted to give her that hope that someone out there is trying," said Stein, "and I hope other people will try as well."

Stein may not be the ultimate match -- months of testing will determine that -- but she's doing the most she can and encouraging others to reach out as well.


If you would like to be tested as a donor, contact the Emory Healthcare Department of Renal and Pancreas Transplant at 404-727-3250.

You can follow Matt Pearl on Twitter here.

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