CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Since being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just five months old, Noah McFall's life has included plenty of agonizingly long hospital visits.
"He hasn't been to school with his friends in 2 years. He gets out of breath when he tries to eat," Noah's mother Tabitha McFall said.
Noah has been at UNC Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill since early April, gearing up for what will be the longest hospital stay of his life. He is getting ready for a double-lung and liver transplant, the first the hospital will ever perform.
"We're just waiting for a donor. And then once he transplants, we're thinking nine to 12 months for healing," McFall said.
His family lives in Asheville, and even though his mother is by his side most nights, the four-hour trip can make it difficult for other family members or friends to visit often. However, he has found comfort from an unlikely source: Pusheen stuffed animals.
"He feels pretty isolated from everyone so he enjoys the Pusheen's, and he likes when people come in and ask him about them, or if he gets a new one he shows it off," McFall explained.
Pusheen is a popular online comic strip featuring a cat, with images often used on Facebook. It has millions of fans, including Noah.
"One of my friends showed it to me, and she showed it to me and gave me a little plush," said Noah, who added he became a fan in 2016.
His hospital room is full of Pusheen dolls and signs, and he's even given his nurses Pusheen pins.
On Tuesday, the company surprised Noah with his own Pusheen character, which included his beloved dog Bear.
"Oh wow," Noah exclaimed, as he and his mother were surprised by the image posted online. He immediately took a screen-shot of the image, and then learned that Pusheen also followed him on Instagram.
"I was shocked, and I love it. I'm so thankful that they did this for him. I want to get it printed out and just hang it on every wall," McFall said.
Within a couple minutes, Noah had to lie back down and take a break. Unfortunately, it represented the reality of his situation--the joy of special connection with something he loves so much in the face of pain.
His family is trying to raise $125,000 for his transplant and post-transplant care, as they work with the Children's Organ Transplant Association. So far, they've raised more than $89,000.
"Once he sees it through, hopefully he'll go home and live a totally different life," McFall said.
Any money left over in his account following his treatment would go toward another patient in need. If you're interested in donating, click here.