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A Minoa firefighter needs a new heart, and the community is now working to help him

Matthew Rushlo needs a heart transplant, after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. (CNY Central Photo)

"It's been since, February, yeah, February since I put it on. MK: Hard to look at? Yeah, a little bit, definitely miss it," said 26 year-old Matthew Rushlo.

His gear sits in his locker, and he hasn't been able to work as a firefighter in almost a year.

"We had the flu when we were moving into our apartment, and things started to move drastically downhill," explained Rushlo, "couldn't breathe couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't go to the bathroom, it was very uncomfortable for me."

The shocking diagnosis was congenitive heart failure.

It means Matt's heart isn't pumping enough blood to meet his body's needs for blood and oxygen.

He says-doctors told him it was a complication for the flu, and last year was the only year he didn't get a flu shot.

"What would I be able to do, you know, I just I didn't know too much about it cause you know I'm 26, this doesn't happen," said Rushlo.

He calls the other Minoa firefighters an extended family, and now they're stepping up to help.

They're hosting a spaghetti dinner for him on saturday at 4 o'clock at St. Mary's Parish Center in Minoa.

Pat Flannery, past chief and president of the department says the proceeds will go to Matthew's medical expenses.

He has to be tobacco-free for six months to get on the transplant list-he hasn't smoked in two.

"We want him on the list, and to get a new heart, and then we want him back on the engines," said Flannery.

Now they're using their hearts, to hopefully replace his.

This benefit dinner for Matthew is already gaining traction on social media.

At least 500 area fire departments have shared the event information on Facebook.

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