Beloved Wake Tech professor desperately needs a kidney; her student offers gift of life

Joel Brown Image
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Students step up as beloved Wake Tech professor needs kidney
When Wake Tech cosmetology students found out their beloved teacher desperately needed a kidney, they rallied to help.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Valerie Bishop has been teaching cosmetology at Wake Tech for a decade. And for the past eight years, she's been quietly suffering from a progressive form of kidney disease. Her kidney function is down to 10%. She desperately needs a donor. One of her students raised their hand to help.

"They have definitely showed their love," Bishop told ABC11. "They have stepped above and beyond."

Bishop's Wake Tech students know her as the kind, compassionate cosmetology professor with a smile that lights up the classroom. What they didn't know, up until a few months ago, was that Bishop's kidney disease has turned stage 5 renal failure. Both of her kidneys are rapidly deteriorating.

"It's irreversible," she said.

In desperate need of a new kidney, Bishop was finding it harder to keep the severity of her condition a secret.

"I shared with my students that I may be missing some time because I had to do doctor appointments. And they were inquiring what was going on," Bishop explained.

Carrie Fisher, one of Bishop's current students didn't just inquire about her professor's health. She offered up her own kidney. She wants to be the donor.

"When I wanna do something, I do it. I'm an arm twister," said Fisher.

Shocked? So was Bishop.

"I'm like, 'Girl, bye! No, you can't do that,'" Bishop said describing her first reaction. "And she was like, 'Yes, I can.'"

So, since late last year, Fisher's been undergoing a battery of donor tests, hoping doctors tell her she's a match. She even lost 38 pounds in less than three months -- to get the acceptable body mass index.

"There is no way, if this was not meant to be, there is no way I would've lost that much weight," Fisher said.

Meanwhile, Bishop's almost endless circle of current and former caring students is also rallying around her. As hope grew of a potential donor, Bishop's daughter, Zoee Bishop-Bridges, organized a GoFundMe to help with medical costs. Former students like Dayra Gonzalez made it their mission to get the word out.

"She's amazing," Gonzalez said of her former professor. "I know I can't do a whole lot but maybe just raise awareness. And that's my goal."

Fisher described the moment of truth when UNC Hospitals sent her the alert on her phone: she and Bishop are a match. Fisher immediately called and texted her professor.

"I said which one do you want? The left? Or the right? We're a match, baby," recalled Fisher. "She just started bawling. She said, 'I can't believe this.'"

For Bishop, she says it means the world. She always knew her students liked her. She didn't know just how much they loved her.

"My students have been such a blessing to me in so many different ways," Bishop said. "I'm just grateful."

It's not a done deal yet. Fisher is still undergoing tests to ensure her own kidneys are viable to survive with just one. But as things move forward, Gonzalez and the others continue to solicit donations for an online fundraiser to help Bishop for what they hope is her road to recovery.