Preschool teacher to donate part of her liver to save former student's life

Doctors say the 5-year-old boy is living with end-stage liver disease.
Student gets liver from former teacher
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 07, 2024

A perfect organ donor match can be rare. But one Western New York family is celebrating after their prayers were answered.

Five-year-old Ezra Toczek suffered liver damage at birth. The young boy has since been dealing with ongoing health challenges. Doctors say he now suffers from end-stage liver disease, meaning his liver is failing.

Ezra and his mother

Back in January, Ezra and his mom traveled to New York City, where doctors determined he was in desperate need of a liver transplant. One month later, he was approved to be placed on the transplant list. But the family went weeks without an update.

Behind the scenes, a familiar face was hoping to help. Carissa Fisher, Ezra's former preschool teacher, learned of his condition and in March, unbeknownst to the Toczek family, she put in an application to become a living donor. Shortly after she traveled to New York City for the required testing, she received the news that she had been approved.

Then, it was time for Fisher to tell the Toczeks. She headed to Ezra's home, with a stuffed animal, balloons and a special sign.

On Wednesday, Scripps News Buffalo anchor Jeff Russo got the three together to talk about the special moment. You can watch the full story in the video player above.

"We were overwhelmed with emotion," said Karen Toczek, Ezra's mother. "He's like, I'm going to get a new liver."

"You never know whose life you are going to be changing," Fisher told Russo. "It was emotional. It made me very happy to see both of them happy."

Ezra's family is hoping the liver transplant will be scheduled for later this summer. But the transplant team is in New York City. That means, aside from medical costs, there will also be travel expenses involved. If you'd like to help out, Toczek and Fisher have both set up GoFundMe pages:

If Ezra and Fisher's story has inspired you to become a living donor, you can read more at ConnectLife and DonateLife

This story was originally published by Jeff Russo at Scripps News Buffalo.