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Teacher fosters 13-year-old student in need of a kidney and provides him a stable home to prepare for transplant

13-year-old Damien, one of Finn Lanning's students at AXL Academy in Aurora, has struggled with kidney disease for years but what he really needed was a stable home to prepare for the transplant

They started school as strangers and now, towards the end of the year, they have become much more than that - family. 

"I started this school year like a regular school year and Damien like a regular student," AXL Academy math teacher Finn Lanning was reported saying by Fox31.

According to reports, 13-year-old Damien, one of Lanning's students at AXL Academy in Aurora, has struggled with kidney disease for years. This requires him to be hooked up to dialysis for hours at a time. The 7th-grade student has been in foster care most of his life, and his medical needs have kept him from finding a lasting home. 

Damien (Image credit: GoFundMe)

But regardless of his health issues, Lanning says Damien has stood out in class for his go-getter attitude. "Although he has significant health challenges, he is an excellent student and a kind, generous, and motivated human being," Lanning wrote in the description to a GoFundMe page he set up for Damien. 

Unfortunately, though, homelessness came with another set of problems - Damien couldn't qualify for a kidney transplant because of the risks involved with an unstable living situation. While a relative was able to care for the child for a few months in the last year (this allowed him to be placed on the transplant list), they later returned him to foster custody a few weeks later. This meant that in order to get treatment, the young boy would have to stay at the hospital full time. 

"He spent, at that point, three or four months, living in the hospital waiting for a placement. And over that time, I started out going in to give him his work and just hang out with him a little bit, keep him caught up in the classroom. And as I learned more about his story and what he was facing and what his needs were and why they weren't being met, it just became really hard for me to look the other way," Lanning was reported saying. 

"Unable to keep his challenges off my heart and mind, I began the personal journey of considering taking on his care," he continued in his post on GoFundMe. 

And so, Lanning moved Damien to his house. This allowed the boy to be placed on the transplant list, which they hope he will stay on until a kidney comes in, ideally in the next few weeks. 

"It's going good," Damien had told the news station. "Like, I got my own room now."

Lanning says the story won't end once Damien gets his kidney. "We're planning on just staying together. Hoping for adoption, probably."

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