Los Osos resident Matt Duffy needs a live-saving kidney transplant.

A Los Osos man’s life may depend on the kindness of strangers.

Matt Duffy was diagnosed with stage 5 renal failure in April and needs a kidney transplant to live. He is in need of a living donor.
“I know it’s not a small favor to ask but I really want to live,” said Matt in an email interview. “There is still a lot of good that I can do for the world.”

Matt’s condition stems from complications due to Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes that he was diagnosed with when he was 11-years-old.
“Matt is a part of our family,” said Taylor Wathen, Matt’s roommate. “He is one of my closest friends and has become my daughter’s favorite person in the whole world. He has been a part of my daughter’s life since she was only a few months old, and he has been there for everything — every doctor’s appointment, holiday, illness, milestone, everything. I don’t know what we would do without him.”

Matt has lived on the Central Coast since 2004 and was a commercial fisherman in the area for many years. In 2014, he lost his career due to vision loss. After 14 surgeries, he was left with less than 40-percent of his vision. He later enrolled in a specialized course to teach him how to re-enter the world as a legally blind individual.

It was through that experience, Duffy cultivated a new dream of wanting to help others so he enrolled in Cuesta College and succeeded in graduating with high honors. He earned an AA transfer degree in psychology and an associate degree in social and behavioral sciences. He is currently a junior at CSU Monterey Bay.

“I’m studying psychology with the intention to go on to obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology, so I can help people get through difficult times in their life,” Matt said.

The day before Halloween, Matt had a peritoneal dialysis catheter placed in his abdomen so he could start training to do dialysis at home.

“Unfortunately, Matt had several complications after surgery, so we have recently spent a lot of time in the ER,” said Taylor. “He seems to have finally turned the corner the last couple of days and is starting to heal. If healing and training go according to plan, he will be officially starting dialysis at the beginning of December.”

Although dialysis may help Matt feel a little better, it also comes with its own risks.
“For people under 45, the mortality rate is around 42% for the first 30 days of dialysis, so it’s scary to know that he will be starting that soon,” Taylor said. “It’s really difficult to watch someone wither away right in front of your eyes. I just feel helpless to do anything since I am not an eligible donor myself.”

Matt has been accepted into the Stanford Kidney Transplant Program; however, they say his health will not survive the 10-year wait for a deceased donor. Matt has the unfortunate added difficulty of having O+ blood, which comes with one of the most prolonged wait times.

“We are looking for a living donor because the cadaver donor wait-list for my blood type is 10-years long and I’m scared I won’t be able to live that long,” Matt said.

To find out if you are a potential donor, there is a pre-screening questionnaire that anyone can take at: https://www.stanfordhealthcarelivedonors.org/. The questionnaire will ask for the recipient’s name and DOB to begin, type in Matthew Duffy, 04/03/1983.

Taylor said the initial test takes about 15 minutes to get through and Stanford will call and mail information packets to those individuals that pass. Then there are several tests, conducted by Stanford to ensure sure the potential donor is in good physical and mental health before they are finally approved. The entire donation process occurs over a period of months.

The donor will not pay any costs during this process. Matt’s insurance will pay for medical expenses and there are programs designed to cover other costs for donors such as time off of work or travel expenses.

“I’m not sure if there is any easy way to ask people to donate an organ,” Taylor said. “It becomes even more difficult to ask a community of strangers because they have no idea who Matt is. But, as I sit here writing these answers, I’m watching Matt play with my daughter, even though he is sick and exhausted. That’s the type of man Matt is, he will push through any sort of suffering to make this little girl happy. He is a solid fixture in her life, and she expects him to be here for the long haul. I can’t imagine having to explain to my innocent 4-year-old girl that Matt did not make it. It would be utterly devastating for her and so many others that care about Matt.”

For more information on becoming a living kidney donor, send an email to otypesharingiscaring@gmail.com or follow Matt’s story on Instagram: @Shareyourspare.kidney or Facebook: Shareyourspare.kidney.