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Swim school collects money for employee who donated her kidney to her dad

natalie and her dad kidney.png
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 09:19:13-04

WAUGH CHAPEL, Md. — At the Goldfish Swim School in Waugh Chapel, 18-year-old Natalie Isabel Garcia stays pretty busy as deck supervisor.

"[I make] sure everything goes smoothly on the pool deck, that’s the staff’s ok, the kids are ok," she said.

Her strong work ethic and dedication doesn't go unnoticed by her co-workers.

"Everyone loves Natalie," said Samantha Ingersoll, the director of operations for Maryland Goldfish locations. "She’s still teaching sometimes and they love her in the water and the staff loves working with her and respect her and listen to her."

Garcia said one of her favorite parts of the job is working with her colleagues.

"I can always go in and talk to the managers and tell them about things and they’ll always respond in a nice, friendly manner," she said.

Garcia would get the surprise response of her life when she told her managers that she would need time off so she could donate her kidney to her father.

About three years ago, her dad was diagnosed with kidney failure in both kidneys and would need a transplant. As soon as she turned 18, she went to get tested to see if she was a match.

"My family, we are Christians so we were asking for a sign from God. When the test matched, we were like wow this is like a miracle," she said.

Garcia and her dad would both need to take about a month off of work to recover from the transplant. When her bosses at Goldfish Swim School learned about this, they sprang into action.

"I went to our ownership group and I said can we do a car wash, can we do something?" said Ingersoll. "She’s worked so hard for our school we wanted to try and do something and our ownership said we can do one better."

The Goldfish locations in Waugh Chapel, Silver Spring and Columbia held a "Spring Fling" where they took bids on year-long memberships. All of the money went directly to the Garcia family.

"I just remember just walking into the managers office and they just told me the news and I was shocked," Garcia said. "I didn’t have any words at all, I was just like thank you so much it was so generous of them."

A generous gesture for a selfless act of love.

"I feel like for family, its almost something you just do instantly without even thinking about it," she said. "He’s been there for a lot of hard times. I love my Dad."

The transplant happened on July 11. Garcia is back at work and said her dad is doing well and continues to recover.

According to the American Kidney Fund, 87 percent of people on the national transplant waiting list are in need of a kidney. To learn more about how to be a living kidney donor, click here.