"Save Mitchell" is a movement to keep a 19-year-old young man alive and well after battling renal failure since the age of eight. To this day, his VCU Medical Center team in Richmond as well as world renown medical institutions around the United States have not been able to definitively determine why he has kidney disease in the first place. In total, he has received 3 kidney transplants; the first organ was donated by his sister in 2002 (it did well for many years, then eventually caused issues), the second organ was donated from a family friend in 2010 (it seemed to have trouble adapting to Mitchell's body from the surgery and beyond - he received kidney dialysis for about 6 months to keep him alive once the organ slowed functioning), and the most recent organ came from a stranger (known as 'altruistic' by way of a paired kidney exchange). In early 2012, a special Facebook page was set-up to promote Mitchell's need for a kidney and provide the family support. Low and behold the Facebook page was a catalyst for receiving his third kidney.
A young lady, Jessica Norman, stumbled across the Facebook page and she was compelled to get tested. Although she wasn't a good match for Mitchell, she matched for another person in need of a kidney. A 'paired kidney exchange' took place in early August 2012 which means Jessica donated her kidney to a stranger, and that stranger's loved one donated his kidney to Mitchell. It was during the months leading up to the surgery that Save Mitchell teamed up with Bonfire. In fact, it was one of the very first funds created after the company's inception, so we were a guinea pig fund in a sense. We raised a few hundred dollars by way of straight cash donations, but it wasn't until we had the t-shirts available when things really took off. Not only are the products fashionable with a fun design, but they are also incredibly high quality. This isn't your typical cheap "freebie" t-shirt that you get at a concert or basketball game -- no this is much different. I've heard time and time again how comfortable the shirts are, that it has become people's favorite, go-to shirt from week to week. In addition to my short sleeve shirt, I recently purchased a Hoodie and can confidently say the same thing about its quality and comfort too.
Meanwhile, as about 150 people are walking around town sporting their 'wearable support' thanks to Bonfire program, Mitchell's kidney was functioning well and for several months, the outlook appeared positive.
Then late 2012 Mitchell's body started to produce anti-bodies which fight the kidney; the body thinks it is a foreign object and tries to kill it off. Medicine is used in patients like Mitchell to prevent this from happening, but for some reason, the medicine was compromised.
Currently a viral campaign on social media is underway to raise money for a treatment called Velcade that could save the kidney, but insurance will not approve the expense. The treatment is given in 4 doses over an 11 day period, and costs tens of thousands of dollars. So far, $1,500 has been collected through word of mouth. We also re-opened another Bonfire campaign in hopes of generating additional money.
At the risk of sounding corny, this t-shirt is much more than a piece of fabric. It's a piece of hope, support and encouragement. It's a visible reminder that we're not alone while fighting to survive. In fact, no one loves the shirt more than Mitchell himself.