If educators lead by example then Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School Superintendent Heidi Riccio’s act of live-saving generosity should serve as an example to us all. Riccio last month donated a kidney to colleague David Collins, an Essex Tech masonry teacher who has worked at the school for more than two decades. After Collins was diagnosed last May with endstage kidney disease, more than 100 people signed up to see if they were a donor match. Riccio’s name popped to the top of the list. “I don’t think I hesitated for a second,” said Riccio, who nearly became a donor for another patient a few years ago. “If you can do something to improve someone’s quality of life, you do it.” The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital on Feb. 21. Collins, who suffered from kidney disease for more than 30 years, hopes to be back at work in May and says he “feels like a million bucks.” Riccio, meanwhile, has been working remotely and hopes to return to campus soon. Collins’ life certainly has improved. For years he was forced to travel from his Haverhill home to hours-long dialysis sessions in North Andover three times a week – all before or after his days working with his Essex Tech students. Roughly 37 million Americans suffer from kidney disease, and more than 90,000 are waiting for a donation. “Someone upstairs puts you in situations to be able to make this choice,” Riccio said. “If anyone is thinking of donating a kidney, I strongly recommend they do it. It is an amazing experience.” For more information on organ donation, visit Donate Life America at donatelife.net.

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