Custom House teacher hailed a hero after donating kidney to pupil

08:00 02 April 2014

Alya with her teacher Ray Coe who has given her one of his kidneys

Alya with her teacher Ray Coe who has given her one of his kidneys


A teacher has saved the life of a seriously ill pupil by giving her one of his kidneys.

Alya Ahmed Ali ,13, who goes to Royal Docks Community School, Custom House, has received a life-saving transplant thanks to father-of-one Ray Coe, a 53-year-old special educational needs co-ordinator at the school.

This week her father, Ahmed Ali, described the man who has given his daughter a second chance as a hero and a lifesaver.

“He has given her more than just the gift of life,” said Mr Ali, who lives in Old Barrowfield, Stratford. “He’s an amazing man, we owe him so much.”

Alya suffers from a condition called hydrocephalus, (water on the brain), which has resulted in her having severe learning difficulties. She also suffered from renal failure.

Her mother told Ray during the summer term last year she would be absent from school as she was undergoing kidney dialysis.

Ray asked what he could do to help her.

“I said ‘Can I put my name down as a donor?’ I knew what being a donor meant and I knew there was a possibility it could go ahead and I knew the implications. I knew what I was doing.

“There is a verse in the Bible that says something like: ‘Maybe you were born for such a time as this.’ It just clicked and I knew it was right.”

Ray told his wife, who after the initial shock, supported his actions.

He said: “When we told Alya, she just gave me a big squeeze and her face lit up. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of that.”

Meetings and blood tests, which confirmed Ray was a match despite not being related to Alya, followed, resulting in a successful transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in February.

Both Alya and Ray are now recovering well and are expected to return to school after the Easter break.

Ray said: “For her parents, it’s not words that can express their gratitude. For them I have saved their daughter’s life. It’s like I am another family member now.”

Wendy Bower, headteacher at the school, praised this decision.

She said: “Mr Coe has gone above and beyond the call of duty with this selfless and noble act. He is a very humble and modest man. The whole staff are in admiration for his kindness.

“He has given a new life to Alya and her whole family.”


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