AUSTIN (KXAN) - A South Austin teen is in urgent need of a double lung transplant.
Fernando Villa, 17, a graduate of Travis High School, is now being treated at a Galveston, Texas, hospital for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis--a rare lung disease that only affects 1 in 100,000 people.
Medicaid is paying for the transplant, but Villa's family needs to prepay $26,000 for post surgery rehabilitation before he can undergo the operation.
Dozens of Villa's family, friends and even strangers came together at H & H Ballroom in South Austin to raise money.
Multiple Mariachi bands played for the crowd--the same music Villa was used to playing before falling ill.
He is an avid cellist who started playing in middle school.
During Villa's senior year in high school, he was admitted to Dell Children's Hospital 15 times to undergo treatment.
Hospitalization forced him to miss most of his senior year and he had to attend graduation in a wheelchair.
"Sometimes fighting back the tears is really bad and sometimes I can do it, but what really brings the tears is when people have done acts of kindness, that is when it does, it really does," explained Fernando's adopted father, Rob Bruce.
"He is a talented young man," said Carlos Meda, Fernando's friend of six years. "Honestly, it is such a waste for him not to go through this and live some more."
Meda said without the operation, doctors said Villa only has four months to live.
Fernando' mother was supposed to attend the benefit, but she is battling stage three colon cancer and had to be admitted to the hospital this morning.
Villa's family and friends hope to host more benefits over the next several weeks.
Bruce did not immediately provide information as to how or where people who did not attend today's benefit can donate money.
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