VIDEO: Message of hope as transplant youngsters ‘meet’ on Aussie TV
They may live on opposite sides of the world, but brave youngsters Matthew and Jack have formed a special bond via the internet after a campaign to raise awareness about organ donation.
Now, the little boys have spoken to each other for the first time – live on live on Australian TV.
Seven-year-old Matthew Pietrzyk, of Glenfield, was born with a rare genetic disorder which has damaged his kidneys, and is now in desperate need of a transplant.
Mum Nicola started a Facebook campaign to find a living donor and raise awareness of organ donation three weeks ago.
As reported in The Mercury last week, the family then received a touching video message from a five-year-old named Jack, who lives on the Gold Coast, in Queensland, Australia, and had a kidney transplant himself last year.
TV bosses at Seven Network in Sydney saw the story and contacted the Mercury to bring the youngsters together via a live satellite link from Matthew's playroom at home.
About 300,500 viewers watched the youngsters speak to each other for the first time on Thursday night.
Matthew told Jack – who could not stop waving at the camera – how much his video message of support had meant to him.
"It meant to me really a lot because it might get me a kidney," said the youngster, who has to endure daily dialysis treatments. "It was great, it was very special."
Jack, who was in the studio in Australia with mum Lizzy and dad Darryl, answered: "I did it because I wanted him to get a new kidney."
The live interview on Australia's most-watched breakfast show aired at 8.12am – after 9pm for a yawning Matthew here in the UK.
Darryl took the opportunity to offer support to the Pietrzyk family.
"Hang in there – there's light at the end of the tunnel," he said,
"We know exactly where you're coming from and we're right here supporting you and thank you for the awareness you are raising, because you have touched hearts across the world."
Speaking after the TV appearance, Nicola said: "I can't believe that three weeks ago I made a Facebook page on a whim, and here we are doing a world exclusive interview in Australia. It's madness, really.
"I'm so proud of what has been done so far and so happy for what it must be doing for organ donation in Australia – I just wish we could do the same here in the UK.
"I have family over there who say Matthew and Jack are on the front pages of the national newspapers, and on the radio, and the first story on the news.
"It's really overwhelming, in a way."
Matthew was born with a syndrome which means his kidneys get rid of protein, through his urine, that would usually transport fluids around his body. He had to have both his kidneys removed.
The youngster is on the national waiting list for a donor, alongside hundreds of other children. His family and friends have been tested as potential donors and while six share his blood group, none are a suitable match.
Nicola launched her Facebook page – A million likes for a kidney for Matthew last month, and it has so far attracted 78,672 "likes".
In Jack's video, he said: "I got my new kidney after a whole year and, even though I am little, I remember how hard it was living on the machine and having injections every day until my new kidney came."
b>To watch Matthew and Jack on TV - click here.