Emily Horn, 17, had the opportunity during the summer to be on the New Orleans movie set of “Bill and Ted 3” with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter and then returned home to find out there was a donor to give her a needed new kidney.
Emily’s mother, Deborah Horn, said that her daughter was born with a rare urinary tract condition that eventually lead to kidney disease.
She said Emily endured several surgeries when she was younger to try and correct the issue, but her kidneys continued to fail, causing the need for a transplant.
“(Emily) was on the verge of starting dialysis,” Deborah said.
Facing the need for a kidney transplant, however, didn’t dampen Emily’s spirits when she learned she would be traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana, to meet two of her favorite actors on the set of the “Bill and Ted” film franchise.
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are reprising their roles in the third installment of the popular “Bill and Ted” saga.
The trip was made possible through the Make-A-Wish program and the Make-A-Wish New Jersey chapter, located in Monroe Township, Middlesex County.
According to that organization, since 1983, Make-A-Wish New Jersey has brought hope, strength and joy to more than 10,000 seriously-ill children throughout all 21 counties in every city, town, and municipality in the Garden State.
Deborah said that Emily was referred to the program by one of her doctors, and the wish was granted.
Emily said the experience was “amazing,” with Reeves and Winter.
“(Reeves) is a thousand times nicer in person than people say he is online,” Emily said.
Emily said the star made her feel right at home on the movie set, taking time out to sit and talk with her between takes.
She said he has kept in touch since the visit, communicating with her by email.
When she returned from the visit, she learned that there was a kidney for her from a 20-year-old male donor, and she immediately went in for the transplant.
Reeves stayed in contact, sending flowers and a hard copy of the movie script to her.
Deborah said the doctors and staff at the hospital were excited about Emily’s famous friend keeping tabs on her recovery.
“I can’t begin to express my gratitude (to the donor’s family),” Deborah said. “It was such an unselfish act (to donate his organs).”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 113,000 people were waiting for a transplant as of January, and some 36,528 transplants were performed in 2018.
The department said that 20 people needing a transplant die each day, and that even though 95 percent of adults in the country support organ donations, only 58 percent sign up to donate organs, and another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.
The department estimates that each organ donor can save eight lives.
Emily said that she was excited about returning to school, and getting back to a more normal life.
Deborah said her recovery is coming along and that early tests look good.