'Without a kidney I will not make it': Grayson County man using rocks to find transplant match

Fallon now down to under 1% kidney function

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. - Finding a match for Robert Fallon.

That's the mission a Grayson County family is on for a 21-year-old man in desperate need of a kidney.

Two years ago, Fallon was a recent high school graduate with his whole life ahead of him. 

Then, one day, he went to the doctor thinking he had bronchitis when everything changed.

"He said, 'Mom, they said that I'm in end-stage renal failure. My kidneys are failing and they're taking me to Roanoke. I think probably you should come along with me,'" recalled Janet Fallon, Robert's mother.

"At first I was kind of in shock. I was like, 'No, this ain't real. This ain't happening," said Robert Fallon. 

When Robert was diagnosed, his kidney function was down to just 12 percent.

His only option was to start dialysis and wait for a transplant. 

Doctors told his mother, "It's typically three to five years... (to) wait for a deceased kidney match. Good luck keeping your son alive that long," said Janet Fallon.

Now Robert is down to less than 1% kidney function and is going to dialysis three times a week. 

"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. Dialysis is just prolonging the inevitable," said Robert.

It was a frightening realization for his girlfriend, who decided to use her talents for change.

"I kept seeing these painted rocks everywhere and then when he got diagnosed, I was trying to think of a way. I was just like, 'Well, how can we locate a potential donor?' And then it sort of just clicked," said Krystal Sparks, Robert's girlfriend.

Sparks started painting rocks each with its own unique design, but the same message on the back, trying to find a match for Robert.

They're now popping up all around the world and over the past two years, dozens of people have reached out but so far, no match has turned up.

Each rock is another attempt to give him that chance.

"They'd essentially be my hero. Like you saved my life and I can never thank you or repay you for that," said Robert Fallon.

Maybe you could be Robert's match! Click here to learn how you can become a kidney donor.

Follow along with Robert's journey to find a kidney match on Facebook.

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