Christchurch teenager Maddie Collins is due to arrive today to a United States hospital for treatment after a long-running fundraising campaign to get her there.
The 13-year-old has had to have dialysis for kidney failure most of her life, and learnt last month that it had put so much strain on her heart, she was at risk of a heart attack.
If Maddie had a successful kidney transplant her heart could recover, but without one she would be at risk of a heart attack, her mother, Sarah Manson Collins, said.
The news had hit Maddie and the whole family hard, she said.
"She was in the room when they told us, and she said ok, how many months have I got to live? We said no, it's not like that, you're going to be ok," she said.
Kidney problems can force the heart to pump harder, putting a lot of strain on it. An American study has found children on dialysis for kidney problems were 1000 times more likely to have a fatal heart attack.
In 2012, her father, Adam Collins, donated one of his kidneys to Maddie, but her body rejected it.
The family has been fundraising to get Maddie to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where more advanced treatment may make it easier to match a donated kidney.
The treatment offered at the hospital would make it less likely Maddie's body would reject a donated kidney, and make it easier to find a match.
If she can be matched with a kidney, the full treatment is expected to cost about $350,000.
"We know we're fighting uphill to find a match for Maddie but you've got to believe in miracles," Manson Collins said.
Givealittle pages have already raised more than $90,000 for Maddie, and community events have also been held to raise money for the treatment.
Manson Collins said the family had left for the US a week ago, but had drawn it out so Maddie could have dialysis and rest after each leg of their journey.
She said Maddie's bother Tom, and sister Georgia, planned to be tested in Baltimore to see if their kidneys might be a match for Maddie's.
Many people, from family members to total strangers, had also volunteered to be tested to see if their kidneys might be a match.
She had no idea how many, as the family were not allowed to know unless a match was found.
But even though none so far had matched Maddie, she said every person willing to donate an organ had helped someone.
"It's not just about Maddie. We don't have enough organ donors, and that's what this is about, so if I can make more people talk about organ donations I'll have succeeded," she said.
She said Maddie had been finding things tough, as her treatment meant she missed a lot of school and couldn't do many things with her friends.
"People say she looks so well, she looks so healthy, but you don't see kidney failure until you lift up her shirt and see all those lines in her body," she said.
But she said Maddie's love for animals, the people around her and her passion for life kept her strong.
"Maddie is incredible. When she gets on her pony everything is right for her, even though I know how much energy it takes her to ride. Her inner strength puts some of us to shame sometimes."