INDIANAPOLIS - He's a little guy with a big fan club. Indiana's very own "Mighty Max" is a Riley Kid, awaiting a kidney transplant next month.
The cost of that procedure is more than $500,000. Now, with the help from an Indiana-based charity, Max and his family can get help covering the costs related to his life-saving transplant.
Max Heffernan will celebrate his second birthday in August. It's been a stress-filled two years for Max and his parents, Ryan and Kye.
"You just assume that your kid is going to be healthy," said mother Kye Hawkins.
Max was born with posterior urethral valves (PUV). He couldn't take a deep breath or make a big dry. He was visibly puffy and full of fluid. This congenital condition affects about one in 8,000 baby boys.
"It was just a complete shock to us when Max was born with such a serious condition. I remember our doctor at Riley saying while we were in in NICU," Hawkins said. "You know, we see a lot of really sick kids here at Riley in the NICU and Max really is one of the sickest that we`ve seen."
Max's kidneys do not work and neither does his bladder. He already had his left kidney removed.
"You are kind of angry about it, you don`t want to be a part of the Riley family because you don`t want your kid to be sick. And then once you`re there, you sort of accept the fact that this is it. You have to get the best treatment possible for your kids," said Hawkins.
Now, Max is home every night on dialysis. Max is waiting to receive a "shiny new kidney," a light-heartened way his mother explains his upcoming transplant surgery.
A family member is planning to donate an adult kidney to Max. The new kidney will replace his right one. Max will hopefully get that new kidney in mid-August if he stays healthy leading up to the transplant.
"We're optimistic," said Max's dad Ryan Heffernan.
The cost of an organ transplant often exceeds $500,000. Luckily, Ryan and Kye have good insurance, but they can't predict what will happen after Max gets his transplant. One or both of them might need to take time off work. The parents also want to cover the lost-wages for Max's living donor.
The Children's Organ Transplant Association is a national charity based in Indiana that helps families raise funds for transplant-related expenses.
"It`s a powerful thing that I think gives us a lot of support," said Heffernan.
Unlike other fundraising sites, COTA transplant families are not charged for services and every dollar donated to Max is used for transplant-related expenses.
"Our friends and family are ultimately what are going to keep us going throughout this whole process. This life-saving transplant that is going to completely change Max's life," said Hawkins.
Max will need to take expensive anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life, and in his late 20s, Max will likely need a second kidney transplant.
Donate to Mighty Max's COTA page here.