ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a dream come true for a sick teenager, having the chance to tour the Long Island Rail Road and meet the people behind it.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported Monday, it may also help save his life.
Malik Ellis grabbed a hand-full of train schedules, but the 18-year-old Islip High School junior probably doesn’t even need them. He has most timetables memorized, since his favorite thing is the Long Island Rail Road.
“I think it was how fast they go, like when they bypass the crossing gates is what really caught my eye,” Malik said.
At the age of 12, he knew he wanted to work for the LIRR, but it was at 2 years old when he says the obsession started. It was around the same time his older sister gave him a kidney after both of his failed. Now, he’s dealing with more problems.
“It started rejecting, like immediate rejection. Now the kidney is declining. It’s at 18 percent,” Malik said.
He was born with a rare disease called prune belly-syndrome, and his donated kidney will only work for another year. His teachers made a YouTube hoping to get him a new kidney. That clip was then shared all over Facebook and officials with the LIRR spotted it and gave him VIP treatment.
Malik had the chance to talk to the LIRR president about what he thinks the railroad should work on. He also got to hop on board a train and tour the facilities and headquarters, all while spreading the word about organ donation.
“Not just to make his dream come true to work for us for the day, but to get the message out that this kid is a wonderful kid. He has a need for a kidney,” said Michael Gilson, the LIRR’s general manager for operations.
Both his mother and stepfather are unable to donate their kidneys, but said they are happy to see their child smiling during a difficult time.
“The train is his life. Eat, sleep and everything about the train. It’s all about the train,” mother Nicole Paul Smith said.
And he’s hoping soon it will be all about another donation.
For more information on how to be screened to become a possible donor, contact NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Kidney Transplant Program at 212-746-3099.