Terre Haute teacher Jodi Southard raises nearly $10,000 for Katelyn Newell's heart transplant

8-year-old needs life-saving transplant

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - An Indiana teacher has raised nearly $10,000 to help the family of an 8-year-old student awaiting a life-saving heart transplant.

Katelyn Newell, a student at Deming Elementary in Terre Haute, was born without a valve in her heart, and has undergone three heart surgeries at Indiana University Health's Riley Hospital for Children, beginning when she was just nine days old.

Doctors say for Newell, who has been diagnosed with Complex Congenital Heart Disease, to have a normal childhood, her best chance is to receive a heart transplant.

"(I need) a new heart because my old one is bad," Newell explained.

Jodi Southard, a first-grade teacher who has Newell's younger brother in class, was inspired to help the family through the Children's Organ Transplant Association, a Bloomington-based national nonprofit that raises money to cover medical and other costs associated with transplantation.

Southard said she could empathize with what Newell's family is experiencing.

"About a year ago, my brother-in-law had a heart transplant, so... I knew what a financial burden that is," she said.

Using a site called Teachers Pay Teachers, which lets teachers buy and sell lesson plans, Southard and 21 other teachers have each donated one of their products, which they are offering up for a $25 donation to Newell's fund.

Southard said she hoped to raise $500, but in the past week, the effort has raised $9,800.

Newell's parents -- Robin Newell and Scott Moody -- said they were shocked and surprised about how much Southard was able to collect.

"I just did not realize it was going to bring that much in. I really didn't. I was shocked," Robin Newell said. "I  cried when she gave me the total, I was like, wow."

"The support from everybody, even outside Indiana, it's amazing," Moody said. "So much going wrong in the world today and all these people pulling together. It's really amazing."

Katelyn Newell Skypes with her school every Thursday, and even though she's not even in Ms. Southard's class, she gives her younger brother's teacher an A-plus.

 

"She did a real good job," she said.
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