Nearly 25,000 people were on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in 2021. Just because someone is on the list, that doesn’t mean they will find a match, and when they do, a lot of factors have to come into play for it to help them become healthy again.

I met Matt Heitzmann while working at the Disney Store in Louisville. Matt and his family are such Disney fans, that even though he had a professional job, he would sign up to work the insane Black Friday sales every year. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of Disney Magic to deal with glitter dresses and parents fighting for that last pair of Cinderella’s slippers.

I was surprised to find out that Matt was diagnosed with stage four kidney disease last year. He is Diabetic and had started on dialysis, and then he became one of those thousands of people on the kidney transplant list.

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Now, Matt could've just sat back and waited to see if he was magically matched with a donor. But that's not the kind of guy he is. Matt decided to use this life-changing experience to not only try and find a kidney but to also create awareness about organ donation and body positivity.

PHOTO CREDIT: KELLY CASPER GERSTLE
PHOTO CREDIT: KELLY CASPER GERSTLE
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The Naked Truth

Matt applied for a job as a nude model at the University of Louisville: Hite Art Institute. He was accepted and takes us on his journey of self-discovery and healing.

'One thing I have learned from this is that body positivity includes medical and/or physical differences that make you special. I need the catheter to survive therefore it is part of me and I am proud. Catheters, scars, colostomy equipment, and prosthesis are all reasons to love yourself even more because they make you unique and special in your own way.'

Live Everyday to its Fullest

Kentucky Man's Search for Kidney Transplant Leads to Revealing Way to Promote Body Positivity

If you have ever considered becoming an organ donor, I hope that Matt Heitzmann's story will encourage you to look into it. I also hope that his 'Dudeoir' photoshoot inspires you to love your body.

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Most of the retail Disney stores have closed. Luckily we have these photos from the Louisville, KY store that was in Oxmor Mall.