Kidney Transplant Saves WKU Student

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

"He's been through a whole lot, and has more endurance than I'll ever have," said Frasier

Many of you have a drivers license, but on the back, you can choose to sign your name. That signature can mean all the difference for people like Matt Miller, a Western Kentucky University student with aspirations to become a physical therapist.

Matt received his kidney transplant, four years ago on April 21st. They say his journey to recovery didn't stop there.

He was a typical high school junior. He played golf, did well in his classes and hung out with friends, but everything changed when his kidneys began to fail.

"He didn't have much free time as a junior in high school and going into his senior year to run around with his friends," said Matt's father Mark Miller.

He had home dialysis treatments for 13 months, seven days a week, eleven hours a day.
He says his strength began to depend on his family, friends and faith.

"I'm not going to say your not going to have days when things get you down, or you wonder if you'll make it through, but if you don't try to keep a positive outlook then I'm not going to say you're not going to make it through, but it's a great motivator," said donor recipient Matt Miller.

"When he couldn't really leave his house, I actually brought my XBOX over and played Halo. He's not much of a gamer, but during those times when he couldn't really go anywhere, and had to be at his house, that's what we did," said friend Luke Frasier.

Countless friends and family members tested to become donors, but weren't matches.
One of Miller's teachers was set to be tested four years ago from the day we spoke in April. It was the night before when the Millers got a call from Vanderbilt University Hospital.

"She was actually the one who was going that day to get tested to give me a kidney when I actually got the phone call the night before saying hey, here's this one of the cadaver list and this is what we think you should take," said Matt Miller.

"Matt got one kidney and the other patient got the other kidney at the same time in the same O.R., so that was pretty awesome," said father Mark Miller.

His body accepted the kidney, and his dad thought that would solve everything, but one nurse warned him his immune system would always be weakened.

"Mr. Miller, there is no cure for this. It's always a constant treatment," said Mark Miller.

December of 2011, he discovered his battle wasn't over. He was diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoma.

"I didn't really use the word cancer. I don't know why. Our preacher at church came up to me and said I hear it's the "C" word. I had to kind of step back and go yeah, it's the "C" word," said Matt Miller.

He endured six cycles of chemo, and his friends wrote him letters to read during each treatment.

"Each day he would read a letter he got from one of us, and it encouraged him," said friend Jonathan Dejarnette.

The 4 inch tumor in his lung shrank to one inch and became inactive, another battle won.

"He's been through a whole lot, and has more endurance than I'll ever have," said Frasier.

"He's still Matt Miller, and him going through all that, he was calm the whole time," said Dejarnette.

Calm and grateful, he says he owes so much to the person who signed the back of their license, but says it's a personal choice.

"I don't think more or less of anyone who does or doesn't do it. Yeah, it's a great thing to do, but I don't expect it of people," said Matt Miller.

The Millers never met the family of that donor, but they thanked them through letters and will be forever grateful for that person's choice.

For more on organ donation and how you can become a donor, see the link below.

Matt received his kidney transplant, four years ago on April 21st. They say his journey to recovery didn't stop there.

He was a typical high school junior. He played golf, did well in his classes and hung out with friends, but everything changed when his kidneys began to fail.

"He didn't have much free time as a junior in high school and going into his senior year to run around with his friends," said Matt's father Mark Miller.

He had home dialysis treatments for 13 months, seven days a week, eleven hours a day.
He says his strength began to depend on his family, friends and faith.

"I'm not going to say your not going to have days when things get you down, or you wonder if you'll make it through, but if you don't try to keep a positive outlook then I'm not going to say you're not going to make it through, but it's a great motivator," said donor recipient Matt Miller.

"When he couldn't really leave his house, I actually brought my XBOX over and played Halo. He's not much of a gamer, but during those times when he couldn't really go anywhere, and had to be at his house, that's what we did," said friend Luke Frasier.

Countless friends and family members tested to become donors, but weren't matches.
One of Miller's teachers was set to be tested four years ago from the day we spoke in April. It was the night before when the Millers got a call from Vanderbilt University Hospital.

"She was actually the one who was going that day to get tested to give me a kidney when I actually got the phone call the night before saying hey, here's this one of the cadaver list and this is what we think you should take," said Matt Miller.

"Matt got one kidney and the other patient got the other kidney at the same time in the same O.R., so that was pretty awesome," said father Mark Miller.

His body accepted the kidney, and his dad thought that would solve everything, but one nurse warned him his immune system would always be weakened.

"Mr. Miller, there is no cure for this. It's always a constant treatment," said Mark Miller.

December of 2011, he discovered his battle wasn't over. He was diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoma.

"I didn't really use the word cancer. I don't know why. Our preacher at church came up to me and said I hear it's the "C" word. I had to kind of step back and go yeah, it's the "C" word," said Matt Miller.

He endured six cycles of chemo, and his friends wrote him letters to read during each treatment.

"Each day he would read a letter he got from one of us, and it encouraged him," said friend Jonathan Dejarnette.

The 4 inch tumor in his lung shrank to one inch and became inactive, another battle won.

"He's been through a whole lot, and has more endurance than I'll ever have," said Frasier.

"He's still Matt Miller, and him going through all that, he was calm the whole time," said Dejarnette.

Calm and grateful, he says he owes so much to the person who signed the back of their license, but says it's a personal choice.

"I don't think more or less of anyone who does or doesn't do it. Yeah, it's a great thing to do, but I don't expect it of people," said Matt Miller.

The Millers never met the family of that donor, but they thanked them through letters and will be forever grateful for that person's choice.

For more on organ donation and how you can become a donor, see the link below.


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