ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — Matthew Novelli is determined in his quest for his fifth kidney.
“My mom just had rocks out. Smooth rocks and sometimes with markers and we just draw on them, doodle on them just as something to do,” he said.
What he once viewed as a funny pastime is giving him a purpose when it comes to finding a kidney donor.
He’s on the transplant list, but doctors said it could take 5-8 years for him to get a kidney. The rocks are to raise awareness about the need for organ donors and, best case scenario, connect him with a match who’d be willing to donate a kidney.
“My immune system is hyper sensitive so to speak, so it’s even more difficult to find a match for me,” Novelli said.
His mom and her friends paint on the rocks and leave them in public places. People have been finding them all over town, taking photos – and even taking them to new spots.
Novelli said many have reached out to him on his Facebook page, which has a map showing where the rocks are turning up across the country.
“They’ll reach out to me because somebody found my rock, and they’ll be like ‘hey, I found your rock,’ they’ll take a picture,” he said.
Novelli continues to beat the odds, including recently welcoming a new baby while on dialysis.
And his own health is just part of what has him so determined to find a donor.
“So I’m not just doing this for myself, but for my family. And it’s this drive that keeps me going,” he said.
According to the Health Resource and Services Administration, about 105,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, and another person is added every nine minutes.