For a lot of students , the COVID-19 shutdowns were surreal uncharted waters, and many struggled to adapt.
Not Micah Stacy.
“I felt normal for the first time in my high school career,” he said. “Everybody had to stay home.”
Stacy already knew what it was like to feel cut off from classmates and had a head start on social distancing. Early in his freshman year at Mt. Spokane, he began to feel unwell.
“He was falling asleep in class,” recalled counselor Rob Renner. “His grades were slipping.”
Eventually, the teen was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.
“I felt so ill,” Stacy said. “I was on dialysis three days a week, four hours at a time.”
The disease exhausted him and made attending class impossible.
“I only got three months of my freshman year,’ he said. “I was so lonely.”
Renner and the staff at Mt. Spokane were rooting for him.
“He’s such a neat kid, he’s got this big smile,” Renner said.
But keeping up with schoolwork virtually proved daunting, as well.
“They tried to set up online learning for me, but it was hard to focus because I was so sick.”
As his condition worsened, it became clear that a kidney transplant was the only way for him to regain his health. His father proved to be a perfect match – same blood type and healthy kidneys.
Stacy worried about how his dad would recover from the surgery.
“At first I didn’t want him to do it,” he admitted.
Then he remembered how his dad had been by his side through the grueling hours of dialysis and had witnessed the toll the disease was taking on his son.
“On Sept. 4, 2019, I got my dad’s kidney,” Stacy said. “Recovery took a long time. It was quite awhile before I began to reap the benefits of having a new kidney.”
He spent five months at the Ronald McDonald House near Seattle Children’s Hospital, before returning to Spokane in January 2020.
Even though he was immune-compromised due to the transplant surgery, he couldn’t wait to return to school. But the pandemic made that impossible, and it wasn’t long before all his friends were sent home, too.
“I didn’t return to school until my senior year,” Stacy said. “I missed my whole high school experience.”
Though many of his peers relished the freedom COVID-19 gave them, Stacy couldn’t wait to return to Mt. Spokane, as soon as it was deemed safe to do so.
“I was just so happy to be there,” he said. “I pretty much enjoyed every class.”
His enjoyment was visible to friends and faculty alike.
“He’s got such a great spirit,” Renner said. “He makes people smile.”
Though Stacy has had to work extremely hard to make up for the credits and classes he missed, he relished the effort.
“Before my surgery, it felt like my whole life was about my kidney problem,” he said.
Now, he’s able to do track and enjoys working out – especially weight lifting.
And he particularly enjoyed his financial literacy class.
“It taught me a lot of things I wasn’t aware of,’ he said.
He plans to attend Spokane Community College and has his eye on a career in business or advertising.
“Micah is a kind, thoughtful, and courageous young man with a bright future ahead of him,” Renner said.
He’s also a young man whose illness profoundly shaped his perspective.
“I don’t take any of my days for granted,” Stacy said. “I live each one to the fullest.”
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