CUMMING, Ga. — A Forsyth County kindergarten teacher is reconnecting with a former student over a decade later to give her the gift of a healthy liver.

Chris Highland said his 16-year-old daughter, Riley, was diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis four years ago after suffering from stomach pain.

“Riley was running track and she was in seventh grade at North Forsyth Middle School and she complained about her abdominal and we just thought it was just stomach stitch," Highland said. 

The teen's father said he immediately wanted to give her his liver but knew he would not be the best candidate. He began sharing Riley's story with his co-workers at North Forsyth Middle School. That's when he reconnected with one of his daughter's former teachers.

"Gina Garber was Riley's kindergarten teacher and taught her Spanish, and so we connected over that," Highland said.

At the time that Highland was sharing his daughter's story, Garner was preparing to donate her liver to her sister.

“The last minute, she got a phone call because of an organ donor and here I was ready to and that didn’t happen," Garner said. "And, at the same time, I was making a connection with Chris and Riley and I just felt like it wasn’t a coincidence that I ended up at this school."

Riley's father explained that when Garner told him she would donate her liver to Riley, he "felt a weight lifted off of him."

“I just felt that it was prayers being answered," Highland said. "You know, proof of angels."

Riley is preparing for her living donor transplant surgery on Monday. According to the Mayo Clinic, this surgery takes a portion of the liver from a healthy person and the transplanted liver portion grows and restores normal liver function in the recipient.

To find out more information about living donors and how you can get involved, click here.

OTHER CUMMING STORIES: 

Cumming deli will temporarily close for expansion

Cumming music center offers record store a new home post-fire

Award-winning romantic getaway opens in Cumming

Local bands rally around His Rock Music record store