Lifestyle

Dear Professor Wake Tech is in dire need of a kidney; Her students provide the gift of life


RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) – Valerie Bishop has taught makeup at Wake Tech for a decade. And for the past eight years, she’s been silently suffering from a progressive form of kidney disease. Her kidney function dropped by up to 10%. She desperately needs an organ donor. One of her students raised a hand to help.

“They definitely showed their love,” Bishop told ABC11. “They have stepped above and beyond.”

Bishop’s Wake Tech students know her as a kind, compassionate cosmetology professor with a smile that brightens the classroom. What they didn’t know, until a few months ago, was that Bishop’s kidney disease had progressed to stage 5 kidney failure. Both of her kidneys deteriorated rapidly.

“It can’t be changed,” she said.

In dire need of a new kidney, it became increasingly difficult for Bishop to keep the severity of his condition a secret.

“I’ve been sharing with my students that I might miss some time because I have to see a doctor. And they’re asking what’s going on,” explains Bishop.

Carrie Fisher, one of Bishop’s current students, didn’t just inquire about the professor’s well-being. She donated her own kidney. She wants to be a donor.

“When I want to do something, I do it. I’m a crook,” Fisher said.

Surprise? So does Bishop.

“I was like, ‘Girl, goodbye! No, you can’t do that,” Bishop said when describing her first reaction. “And she said, ‘Yes, I can.'”

So since late last year, Fisher has undergone a series of donor tests, hoping doctors will let her know she’s a good match. She even lost 38 pounds in less than three months – for an acceptable body mass index.

“There’s no way, if this weren’t so, there’s no way I would have lost that much weight,” Fisher said.

Meanwhile, Bishop’s nearly endless circle of interested current and former students was also gathering around her. As hopes grew of a potential donor, Bishop’s daughter, Zoee Bishop-Bridges, organized a GoFundMe to help with medical costs. Former students like Dayra Gonzalez made it their mission to spread the word.

“She was amazing,” Gonzalez said of her former professor. “I know there’s not much I can do but maybe just raise awareness. And that’s my goal.”

Fisher describes the moment of truth when UNC Hospital sent her an alert on her phone: she and Bishop were a couple. Fisher immediately called and texted her professor.

“I said which do you want? Left? Or right? We’re a couple, honey,” Fisher recalls. “She just started playing football. She said, ‘I can’t believe this.'”

For Bishop, she said it meant the world. She always knew her students liked her. She didn’t know how much they loved her.

“My students have been a blessing to me in so many ways,” Bishop said. “I’m just grateful.”

It is not yet a done deal. Fisher is still undergoing tests to make sure her kidneys can survive with just one. But as things move forward, Gonzalez and others continue to raise donations for an online fundraiser to help Bishop for what they hope is her path to recovery.

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