A surprise graduation was held Thursday for a local high school student recovering from a kidney transplant.
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Salma Alhinn had a kidney failure when she was a freshman at Mount Carmel High School. She was one of about 25 patients on the waiting list. It usually takes about a year to be called, but because of Alhinn's rare blood type, her wait dragged on for four years.
Days before her graduation on Thursday, her number was up and she had a transplant at Rady Children's Hospital.
Though Alhinn was in the hospital recovering while her fellow classmates were graduating, the nurses decided to throw her a celebration, which was complete with a cap, gown, diploma and music.
Her principal and teacher, Sean Carter, attended the hospital graduation.
"Last night we had the graduation. Obviously she's still in the hospital," Carter said. "She's kind of like a daughter."
Carter was brimming with pride and said he felt a sense of relief.
"It's unbelievable," Carter added. "I am just so excited for her."
Alhinn said, "This kidney is more important than my graduation."
Her mother said they were beginning to think the call would never come.
"It felt like forever," said mother Laila Alhinn "Are we ever going to have a kidney? Is this call ever going to happen?"
Despite the long wait, Alhinn kept a positive outlook.
"I have a new kidney," she said. "I have a new life. When I graduate college, I'll graduate proudly. I won't need a kidney. I won't have anything wrong with me, hopefully."
Alhinn said she is grateful for the nurses at Rady Children's Hospital for giving her a graduation and grateful for the person who helped make her healthy start possible.
"I would definitely like to thank the guy that donated his kidney, who passed away at the age of 26," she said.
Alhinn will head home from the hospital on Saturday. She plans to pursue a career as an interior designer.
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