Teacher Risks Her Life for Her Students and Says She’d Do it All Again
When Tricia Moses found out she needed a life-saving lung transplant, she did what most people wouldn't do -- she put it off. It's not because Moses, a 39-year-old teacher in Brooklyn, New York, was worried about the operation or treatment involved, it's because she was preparing her third grade special needs students for state exams and didn't want them to go into them without her.
That was about a year ago, and Moses nearly died when she made it to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she received new lungs this January. After several months of rehabilitation and recovery, the devoted teacher will finally return home this week.
"I can't wait to dance, I haven't danced in so long," Moses tells the Good News Blog. "I tried the other day just for two seconds and I started crying because I haven't danced for so long. I also can't wait to surprise my students. I'm looking forward to enjoying life, dancing, breathing, taking it all in."
In 2009, Moses was diagnosed with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease similar to lupus. Her condition advanced over the years to the point where she could hardly breathe, and in December 2012, her doctor told her she needed to quit teaching and seek a lung transplant.
Nevertheless, Moses refused to enter treatment until April 2013, because her students at Public School 233 in Flatbush needed her to prep for upcoming tests.
"We'd been preparing for the exams for so long," Moses explains. "Even though my students have special needs, they're still held to the same standards as everyone else unfortunately. We'd worked so hard. I said please just give me another week, and then another week, and then another week. I wanted them to have a fair chance to succeed."
It got to the point where Moses was breathing with an oxygen tank, and became so weak, her kids had to help her push it around. They kept going though, and Moses kept going; it was all part of her journey.
She comments, "It was so therapeutic to go to work. It took my mind off being sick and the illness… at home, I was stuck in the room, I couldn't do anything. And we had great coffee at the school too!"
When she finally made it to the hospital, Moses was in bad shape. Her chest cavity was shrinking, and she couldn't stop coughing. In January 2014, Moses received her new lungs, and she's been in rehabilitation for the past few months. She spent five weeks in the hospital and has been living in an apartment in Pittsburgh near her doctors, so she can go in for weekly visits.
This week, the elementary teacher with a giant heart returns home to Brooklyn. She's taking a year off from teaching, but already can't wait to sneak up and surprise her students. She's also dealing with a mounting pile of medical bills. Insurance covered the surgery, which ran close to $1 million, but beyond that, she pays for all her doctor visits and medication out of pocket. Her friends will be hosting a fundraiser in her honor this June to help with the debt.
Moses says that despite the fact she could have lost her life, she wouldn't do anything differently if she had the opportunity. She would teach until she couldn't stop, as she knows the impact she has on her students, and that is what gives her life.
"They're children with special needs, I didn't consider it to be the job," Moses explains. "It was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be around them, and I had so much faith in them. I knew if I left them and they had a substitute teacher, it might not have gone as well. I knew that I needed to be there with them."