(WVLT) - Since he was five months-old, the youngest member of the Southern Gospel Group The McKameys has been living with kidney problems.
Next week, 13 year-old Eli Fortner will undergo a surgery that will change his life.
Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt sat down with the family to talk about it.
Music is a huge part of Eli Fortner's life.
He plays guitar and sings with his family in the Southern Gospel group, The McKameys.
His father, Roger, got him interested in guitar at a very young age.
"He said just listen to all sorts of music and stuff, figure it out," said Eli.
But, now his father is giving him more than the gift of music... he's giving him his kidney.
"I'm a little scared about it, naturally. I've never been cut all my life, I've never had any surgery, I've never been put under," said Roger Fortner.
But as a perfect match, Roger Fortner wouldn't have it any other way.
"I've showed him guitar and try to teach him a little wisdom along the way, but where it comes up, you have to give him something to sustain his life, there's really no words to describe that," said Roger.
"I ain't really nervous, just more excited," said Eli.
Those may be words you don't expect from a 13 year-old about to have a kidney transplant.
"It's exciting to know that I'm gonna feel better and it's a relief that I'm not gonna feel sick anymore hardly," said Eli.
And something else he's happy about...
"I'm looking forward to drinking a big large coke, 'cause now I'm on a drinking diet, so I have to drink very little," he said.
And his favorite thing to drink?
His mother, Connie, has saved hundreds of e-mails and cards showing support.
"They're praying for him and thinking about him and it's just phenomenal," said Connie Fortner.
The family says along with their music, that's what's gotten them through such a tough time.
"Our songs, we live by our songs, we sing and it's kinda like you live by what you preach," said Roger.
Eli's surgery is Tuesday, October 2 at 8:00 a.m.
Roger and Eli hope to be well enough to join the rest of the group at Dollywood on October 20.
If you would like to send your wishes, you can do so by going to the Fortner's webpage by clicking the link below.
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