CALLAHAN, Fla. -- A Nassau County community is coming together in hopes of saving a teenager in need of a kidney transplant.
West Nassau High School senior Matthew Miller has had kidney problems since he was a kid, and has been in and out of the hospital at least 30 times in the past year.
He said, "I don't know any different besides this...getting sick, getting better, getting sick, then getting better."
He takes thirteen different medications three times a day on top of daily dialysis.
"Now it's like I have no immune system at all. They say a newborn has a better immune system than I do," said Miller.
Despite all of this, the 18-year-old doesn't have the outlook you'd expect.
"Because my entire life has been a gray cloud. So I have to find the silver lining to keep going and going and going," he said.
It's his mother, Debbee Miller who has the harder time seeing her son in so much pain.
She said, "I need a kidney, desperately need a kidney."
This will be the second kidney transplant for Matt. He received the first one at the young age of 3. He was doing ok healthwise until about a year ago.
"His heart, his lungs are failing now and there's permanent damage because of all the fluid overload," said Debbee Miller.
It's getting more and more expensive for Debbee Miller to take care of her son. While insurance should cover the transplant itself, Miller said they'll need money for organ donor testing and aftercare costs.
Local pastor David Hughart heard about Matt's story and led an assembly at West Nassau High School to mobilize students and staff members to help out.
Hughart told students to imagine if it were them in the same situation, facing uncertainty about living another day.
"There's only a few times in life when you have the opp to become something bigger than yourself and it's our reaction to those opportunities that define our greatness or our smallness," said Hughart.
He told them to get on Facebook and tell all their friends to support Matt. WNHS teachers said they're confident they can raise the money.
"We've done it before. We're a small community that comes together. We make it happen when it's that important," said WHNS teacher Jane Hicken.
As of Sunday, more than $10,000 had been raised. Matt, who is looking forward to graduation in a few weeks, is amazed at the outpouring of love.
"It shows that people still care. And all you can really say is thank you," he said.
Donations can be made to the Matthew Miller Kidney Transplant Fund at Wachovia Bank, 542196 U.S. Hwy 1, Callahan, FL 32011. The account number is 2000053612184.
For online or electronic wires, the bank tracking number is 0630-0002-1.
Donations can also be made at West Nassau High School, 1 Warrior Drive, Callahan, FL.
First Coast News