Teen only has one Christmas wish: a kidney
(PIX11) – Walk the halls of Fox Lane High School in Bedford with Mike Dell Orso, and you'll see how popular the freshman is.
Although small in stature, he's big on personality. But don't let the smile fool you, he is in a dire situation.
"Find my kidney," Mike said when asked what he needs right now.
At 15, Mike has had only one functioning kidney for nearly a decade and that one is now failing him. He's in dialysis three days a week, missing schools on those days, and explains what happens during those three hours.
"They take the blood out, clean it, and put it back in," Mike said.
He knows that he's missing out on other things he'd rather spend time on.
"I could play baseball, I could go to school," Mike said. "I could play outside with my brother."
And the Dell Orso family is dealing with a double whammy.
Mike's mother Maggie suffered a brain injury the same week her teenage son was put on dialysis. Fifteen months later, she still needs full-time care even as her sister Martiza takes Mike to the Bronx for his dialysis three times a week.
"Even though he's in this situation, he remains positive and upbeat," Aunt Maritza said about his lifelong struggles.
There are 80,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney donor. About 4,500 people will die each year because they can't find a match, and it can take 5 years or more to find a donor.
Mike thinks he can beat the odds, though. And so do the Flood sisters.
"We're confident we will find him a donor," Jennifer Flood said. "We saved our dad in 2008. My sisters and I were not a match for dad. We put it out there on social media and Craigslist, and a donor came forward."
Not just one donor. Some 100 people wanted to donate a kidney to the Floods' dad. A woman named Dawn was a match.
"She saw the ad and felt a close connection to my sisters and my dad, and saw that we were in desperate need to save our father," Flood said.
Now, they're paying it forward with the FloodSisters.org, a boutique donor matching service. So far, it has connected patients with six living kidney donors.
"It's only a matter time before someone saves Mike's life," Flood said.