‘I get a chance at a new life’: How a simple art project saved a Grayson County man

GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. – A 22-year-old man in Grayson County now has a second chance at life thanks to an art project that reached people well beyond southwest Virginia.

10 News first introduced you to Robert Fallon in August. At the time, he was struggling through end-stage renal failure and kidney disease, living with less than 1% kidney function.

“Unfortunately, everybody thinks, ‘Oh well he’s on dialysis, he’ll be here another 15, 20, 30 years.’ That’s not the case with me because without a kidney, I will not make it,” Robert told 10 News in August.

Robert lived with the uncertainty of his diagnosis every day.

“Two and a half years, 910 days, I wake up, ‘Is today going to be the day? Is today going to be the day? Is today going to be the day?’ And it never came until January 4,” Robert said.

He got the call that not only changed his life, but saved it.

“My heart’s beating out of my chest, I hand her my phone and I say, ‘Good call, good call, good call,’” Robert said.

“Her (the caller’s) exact words were, ‘We have a potential donor for Robert,’” Robert’s mother, Janet Fallon, said.

24 days later, that potential donor became a real one.

"My child's not dying anymore. My child's going to live," Janet said.

“You don’t really think it’s going to happen and then when it finally does, it’s just like, ‘Wow,’” Robert’s fiancé, Krystal Sparks, said.

When Robert was diagnosed, his then-girlfriend Krystal decided to paint rocks to try to find a match. They popped up around the world and ultimately led to a donor.

The woman who made Robert’s transplant possible lived just 30 minutes away. She didn’t find a rock, but she saw Robert’s story and got tested to see if she was a match. She was, but doctors said there was a better match in the Midwest. Through the paired donor exchange program, she made it possible for not only Robert to get a kidney, but for four other people to get kidneys too.

"Krystal saved Robert's life," Janet said.

"This is what I did it all for. This is what I’ve been working towards. I'm just really glad that he gets to experience life like any other 22-year-old should," Sparks said.

Now Robert has energy, a kidney and a fiancé. Robert proposed two days before surgery.

"If God forbid, I didn't make it out, I wanted her to know how much I truly loved her and if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have gotten the kidney," Robert said.

He’s still recovering two weeks post-surgery and will be on medication for the rest of his life, but his prognosis this time means living.

"It's an overwhelming feeling. I mean, I get a chance at a new life," Robert said.

“Organ donation saved my boyfriend’s, my fiancé's life,” Sparks said.

"If he wants to have a life and a wife and baby and that's all he aspires to, I am good with that because at least now he's here," Janet said.

Click here to learn more about organ donation.

Click here to learn more about the paired donor exchange program.

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