GARDEN CITY, NY (PIX11) — Debra Molloy spent more than 40 years teaching first grade children in the Catholic school system, and now her former students want to save her life.

Seven years ago, during her long tenure at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Queens Village, Molloy, then 59, learned she had progressive kidney disease.

“It came out of the blue, literally,” Molloy told PIX11 News.  “I just got nauseous, and it didn’t go away.”

Dr. Naveed Masani, a nephrologist with NYU Langone Hospital on Long Island, diagnosed the teacher with Interstitial Nephritis, telling Molloy the tubes that clear the toxins from her blood “weren’t working at that point.”

Dr. Masani told PIX11 News Molloy had an auto-immune disease that damaged her kidneys.   
He managed to slow down the progression of her kidney disease for seven years through immuno-suppressant medications.  Then, in April 2021, Molloy contracted pneumonia, which compromised her health further.  Dr. Masani told her this year she would have to go on the transplant list.

“The best treatment for progressive kidney failure is a pre-emptive kidney transplant, before you need dialysis,” Dr. Masani, director of the dialysis program at NYU Langone in Garden City., told PIX11 News by phone Friday. 

When some of Debra Molloy’s former students, now adults, heard about her need for a kidney, they sprang into action.

Christine Whalen wrote, “I received the gift of being in Ms. Molloy’s FIRST first grade class from September 1980 to June 1981.  I have always said Ms. Molloy gave me the gift of loving school and for that I will always be grateful. It is now my turn to give my friend and mentor, Debbie, a gift!”

Whalen has been spearheading efforts to get attention for Molloy’s plight on social media, pointing out the now-retired teacher spent nearly four decades at the same school, even serving as principal for two years.

“In addition to her day job, she also taught, tutored, and mentored at after-school programs throughout the decades,” Whalen said.

While Dr. Masani said that Molloy would benefit from either a living or deceased kidney donor, he noted that a living donor would be the ideal.

“Her blood type is ‘O,'” Dr. Masani said of Molloy. “So she can only take from an ‘O.'”

Dr. Masani observed that dialysis is no fun, and a transplant would restore health and function to Molloy, who is now 66 years old.

The doctor mentioned a report that came out in May 2022 revealing one-third of annual kidney transplants now come from living donors.

Molloy said she recently went to the hospital after getting a toothache, because the antibiotics she took for the infection affected her kidneys.

Dr. Masani hopes Molloy can find a donor who can help the long-time teacher reach her full, life expectancy.

“She’s a great lady,” Dr. Masani said of Molloy.  “I think it’s wonderful that there are people out there advocating for her, especially a former student.”

If you feel you can help Debra Molloy with her kidney search, please check out these links for more information: