Reality TV star Teresa Giudice believes fate introduced her to 9-year-old , a Melville resident, who has been battling a rare form of kidney disease since he was 2 years old, just a few months before she was asked to compete on "The Celebrity Apprentice."
On Tuesday, April 17, Giudice, along with the Trump family, , a kidney disease non-profit that focuses on the disease FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome. Giudice won the money on the April 8 episode of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice after leading and winning a task for Entertainment.com.
Levine suffers from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which prevents his kidneys from properly filtering proteins and toxins. The disease could cause his kidneys to fail at any moment. To stay alive, Matthew must take 15 pills a day. FSGS has also left him anemic, Vitamin D deficient and he has cholesterol and blood pressure levels that would alarm any physician.
“His kidneys are like a ticking time bomb. They can fail any minute of any day, his father Michael Levine said. “It’s like walking in the dark on glass every day. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Matthew is not alone in his battle though. FSGS is the leading cause of kidney failure in children and more than 8,000 people are diagnosed with FSGS and the related Nephrotic Syndrome each year. The disease has no specific target and affects all races, ages and genders.
While daily life is a struggle for the Levine family, the acts of strangers have brightened the hope for Matthew to live a normal life.
Michael Levine thanked Giudice for choosing The NephCure Foundation as her charity and promoting the organization and its cause through the show.
"Thank you to Joe [Giudice] and Teresa for being angels on Matthew's shoulders," he said. "Teresa, you are a gift from heaven."
He also thanked her on behalf of the board of directors for filming public service announcements for NephCure and stressed how much of a toll diseases like his son's, and the other individuals the foundation hopes to help, takes on his whole family.