AUSTIN, Texas - About a year and a half ago, we brought you the story of Matthew Novelli.
He's one of about 10,000 Texans who's waiting for an organ transplant, but his case is unique. Matthew was born with just one kidney, and now the 43-year-old is waiting for his fourth kidney transplant after his latest kidney stopped working.
However, this time around, he's getting by with a little help from his friends with a big fundraiser happening Saturday night in Jonestown.
Matthew and his sister Jennifer Novelli sit down with FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak to talk about Matthew's journey since we last saw him and the fundraiser.
JOHN KRINJAK: So first of all, to you, Matthew, I want to ask, how are you doing? We first met you back in November of 2021. We know you were waiting for a kidney then and you're still waiting now, right?
MATTHEW NOVELLI: Yes, sir.
JOHN KRINJAK: And how are you doing? How are you feeling?
MATTHEW NOVELLI: I feel really good, actually. I've been on dialysis for about two years and I do feel overall really great, pretty darn good.
JOHN KRINJAK: And so where do things kind of stand as far as you're on the list? You're still waiting for surgery. What are you sort of looking ahead to?
MATTHEW NOVELLI: So actually, my wife and I are on this. It's called a kidney swap program, or she's going to donate to somebody else and they're going to find a donor for me. We got on that list about a week before Christmas. And so back in December 2022. And we've been told that we have no definite timeframe on when that's going to happen, but it should speed the process up considerably. So, yes.
JOHN KRINJAK: And I understand there's a lot of expenses around actually getting this transplant surgery. It's something you've had to do, obviously, before and you're going to have the surgery again. And I understand this is where the fundraiser come in comes in. Jennifer. Tell us a little bit about this event tonight and how it all came together.
JENNIFER NOVELLI: So we're a group of women in my neighborhood. We started painting rocks and just trying to spread awareness of it, obviously. And one of the rocks that I painted I told you about when we presented it to one of the owners, that owners of their mines are married. And they just said that they'd like to do a benefit with a matching. So it started with organ donation awareness, and then it expanded to auction items, which my friends in my neighborhood, we have a work together mission control called.
JOHN KRINJAK: [00:04:38] All right. So just to pick up on it sounds like there's been a great turnout here tonight. Matthew, how does it feel seeing all this love from the community, from people you know, and just from total strangers who just want to help? [00:04:50][12.3]
MATTHEW NOVELLI: [00:04:52] It's pretty unbelievable. That is way more than I deserve. It's you know, this started a couple of years back where I talked about advocating for donor awareness. So actually just growing awareness in general. And then it's again, two years ago to now is just to never imagine it being anything like this. And all these people here, you know, just giving their time financially, it's been incredible
JOHN KRINJAK: So yeah. Jennifer, tell us a little bit about how people can get involved if they're not able to make it tonight. They can donate online, right?
JENNIFER NOVELLI: They can. And there's an organization called Help Hope Live, and they're the nonprofit organization that's been in place for 40 years, started with a heart transplant doctor. And so all the money that goes through there and there on that site, there is a QR code that will lead people to help.
JOHN KRINJAK: Thank you so much. And we're so happy to see all the outpouring of support from people that care about you. And we're hoping for the best.
JENNIFER NOVELLI: Thank you.
To donate and to learn more about Matthew Novelli's story, click here.