Bay area man giving up a passion to save a life

Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 19:38:22-04
A young Pasco County man is getting a second chance at life, and it's all thanks to your help, and the sacrifice of a local athlete.
Joe Richman, 22, of Wesley Chapel, was born with Alport Syndrome, a genetic disease that took away much of his hearing as well as the use of his kidney.
He spends hours every day on dialysis and desperately needed to find a donor.
Last month, his mom created a social media movement that succeeded in finding a match.
Like thousands of you, Mike Miller of Pasco County saw #AKidneyForJoey trending online in March, and clicked.
But Miller didn't stop there.
"When I opened it up I almost knew instantly it was a match," explained Miller. "They were afraid, looking for someone to step up and help their son, and I saw my family in that and saw a family a lot like mine asking for help." 
"Throughout the next week I went through a batter of tests, imagery and more blood tests, as things kept coming back it was more and more a match. All lined up, the timing, everything coming together seemed more than a coincidence," said Miller. "I was just meant to do this I think."
But Miller is giving up more than just a kidney; he's giving up a career.
"They call me Mike 'The Muffin Man,'" said Miller.
That's Miller's mixed martial arts nickname.
MMA has been a hobby, and a love of Miller's, for 6 years now, and he's very good at it. He's 3-1 in a professional league, and he was scheduled for a title match in July. Instead, he's stepping away.
"I'm prepared to give it up," said Miller, "But I plan to stay involved in the MMA community."
"A change of roles in the MMA community for me. I’m just moving on from being under the big lights to, you know, supporting and helping bring other guys up," explained Miller, who doesn't expect to compete professionally after the surgery.
The surgery is scheduled for April 20. 
Miller is also an employee of Helicon, a property-restoration company that specializes in fixing sink holes in Pasco County.
Helicon is being extremely supportive and flexible about Miller's absence; he'll be taking 6-8 weeks off to recover because his regular job is very physical.
In exchange for his kidney, Miller has made just one request to Joey Richman in return.
"His biggest thing is paying it forward," explains Richman. "I'm trying to go into medicine and become a surgeon and I really feel like that will help me kind of return the favor so to speak to the community."
If you want to learn more about how you can help someone who needs a kidney, click HERE.