Extraordinary Senior: School, friends helped Jackie Arias cope with kidney failure

By By Arlene Gross Special to Newsday

These are a few words that come to mind when describing Jackie Arias.

Just before her sophomore year at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick, Arias was diagnosed with Takayasu arteritis, an autoimmune disease causing inflammation of the blood vessels that can result in heart damage. Soon after, she experienced kidney failure and, requiring dialysis several times a week, began home instruction.

At the start of her senior year, Arias underwent a kidney transplant — and was back in school two months later.

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