A Connecticut woman who has suffered from chronic kidney problems since birth has a new lease on life thanks to a donated organ from her former kindergarten teacher.

Sammy Brownlow, 21, had her right kidney removed as a child, and was told by doctors that her left would also fail her in the future, MyFoxNY.com reported. In January 2014, the doctors’ predictions came true.

It was then that Jenn Giannino, Brownlow’s former kindergarten teacher whom she had kept in touch with over the years, volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.

“My gut was ‘Absolutely, I’m going to get tested,’ and then I was like ‘Oh wait, that’s a kidney, that’s surgery,’” Giannino told MyFoxNY.com. After the initial hesitation, Brownlow’s worsening condition convinced her former teacher to go ahead with the procedure.

After three failed matches from other potential donors, including her own father, Brownlow and Giannino were found to be a match.

“It was destined,” Giannino told MyFoxNY.com.

Brownlow is not out of the woods yet, as her body recently suffered a minor rejection requiring her to take steroids and other drugs, but she is approaching the 100 day milestone.

“I’m just so grateful to her,” Brownlow told MyFoxNY.com. “Such a selfless act, and a gift I’ll hopefully carry for a long time,” she said.

Fewer than 17,000 kidney transplants are performed in the U.S. each year, and between 5,000 and 6,000 are from living donors, considered the optimal kind.

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