ELGIN, Texas - An Elgin man who has been fighting kidney failure since he was two years old, is now in need of another transplant.
Matthew Novelli is one of nearly 10,000 people in Texas who are waiting for an organ transplant.
"A big chunk of those people that are waiting are waiting for a kidney. There's a huge need for kidneys," said Edwina Garcia with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.
At just two years old, Matthew underwent his first transplant surgery. Since then, he's had two more. "I mean this has been my life," he said.
In February 2020, he noticed himself beginning to get sick again. He knew his latest kidney was no longer working. Now he's in dialysis treatment three times a week and he's on multiple lists for a donor.
The wait he says can be up to 7 years, possibly longer.
But that's a wait that he no longer can afford. Now, he has a wife and family. And he wants to be there to be part of their lives. "This time with my family and the baby, I feel this like push to really like do something about this," he said.
That's why Matthew reached out to Ben Steckbeck, founder of Mixtape Marketing, earlier this year. Matthew saw people who were in the same situation running Facebook groups and campaigns trying to get a donor. "I jumped in headfirst and said, 'You know, if I'm going to do this, I might do this with everything I got,'" Matthew said.
Ben helps Matthew run ads and marketing to get his message out there.
"I've never had the opportunity to kind of, in my mind, make such a singular impact," Ben said. "And to be that close, and literally to have it be a matter of life or death for somebody, the gravity of that moment was just incredible.
Ben said at first he was apprehensive because he didn't want to seem like they were 'cheating the system' but, Matthew assured him he was in it for the right reasons. "Yes, I want a kidney, but I'm trying to raise donor awareness as well," Matthew said. "I think that's important too"
Garcia said that because those in need of transplants, especially kidneys, can see such long wait times many do take to measures like this.
"That's why you see people whenever they're waiting for a kidney, asking family members and friends, if maybe they would consider becoming a living donor because that makes your wait so much shorter," Garcia said.