MOORESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - This is a unique request. John Burgess is the newest one of our amazing #MollysKids and he needs your help.
The 18-year-old from Mooresville graduated from South Iredell High School on June 11th. His teachers and parents got together and sent me a desperate email. I'm turning around and writing about him ASAP - time is of essence.
Seventeen months ago John became ill. He was misdiagnosed. Almost too late it was determined a virus attacked both his kidneys.
It destroyed them, taking away all function.
Halfway through John's junior year he went from a healthy guy with sights set on a military career, to a chronically-ill teenager tied to a dialysis machine.
He is on a kidney transplant list. Because of other issues – mainly neuropathy in his hands and feet – he can no longer grip a pencil or tie shoes. He's at risk for falls. He spent his senior prom night in the hospital.
Just reading that makes a heart hurt.
Doctors recommended homebound treatment, but John is a determined, inspiring kid. He insisted on going to school when he didn't have treatments or physical therapy. He wants to be around friends and have "normalcy".
"He's one of those glass-half-full students," said his school nurse, Susan Johnson. "A rare kid who makes the rest of us happy. He's a role model."
The picture here is from his Senior Awards ceremony and Marine Corps JROTC promotion program earlier this month. John was awarded a "Purple Heart". It's given to a student who exemplifies high moral character.
"He is upbeat and positive," said Kimberly Van Buren, his school counselor. "But he is also tired. We are worried it is taking so long to find a matching donor. Is there any way you can put the word out in the community? We are not sure how much time we have before he will no longer be healthy enough for a transplant and taken off the list."
His school teachers and family are asking for someone to consider donating a kidney.
It has to be someone with O+ blood type.
It has to be someone over the age of 18 and cancer-free.
To get more information call the Carolinas Healthcare Living Donor Office and ask to speak with a coordinator. They know I'm writing this so your call shouldn't be out-of-nowhere. You're welcome to specifically reference John Burgess. Or, you could call to get overview information about kidney donation – for anyone in need.
The number is 704-355-3602.
Let me go back to the very first thought - I know this is a unique post about one of our #MollysKids. But none of his family or friends are O+ blood type. Something about the personal request struck me hard.
If it was my child needing the gift of life, I'd want help spreading the word.
You never know...