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Boy With Cystic Fibrosis Lives Out A Field of Dreams

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CHAPEL HILL — It was a moment Matthew Long had been waiting for, and practicing for. He threw the first pitch at UNC's Boshamer Stadium Sunday.

The 13-year-old is also waiting for something much more important. Matthew has cystic fibrosis and he needs a double lung transplant.

Matthew's brother, 10-year-old Michael, was also born with cystic fibrosis. He had a liver transplant in October.

"He's a wonderful, healthy kid," says UNC nurse Martha Taylor. "He's a wild man running around. He hasn't been hospitalized since his transplant."

Michael is happy and healthier now, although both brothers face a lifetime of medication and physical therapy.

"I can't stress [the importance] enough about organ donation," says Eddie Long, Michael's father.

The Longs waited eight months for Michael's new liver. Now they are waiting again, for another organ donor to save Matthew's life.

"I didn't realize how important it was until it hit home, and we're waiting," Long said. "I hope something comes soon."

Matthew has not left the hospital since December. Michael tossed out the pitch Sunday, but he is hoping his brother can leave the hospital soon, and join him back home in Western North Carolina.

"Cause I miss him at home, and everybody else misses him," Michael said.

Matthew is first on UNC's transplant list, but the last child who got one had to wait a year and a half. Some children do not have that much time.

"Kids like Matt don't stand a chance if people don't donate," Taylor said. "The only thing that can save him is a transplant."

Anyone interested in becoming an organ donor can call the Carolina Organ Procurement Agency during regular business hours. Their number is1-800-252-COPA, (1-800-252-2672).


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