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Dad of Internet "Success Kid" appeals for kidney transplant

Boy in "Success Kid" meme needs your help 00:31

Sammy Griner has one of the more famous faces on the Internet -- and he's hoping to use it to help his dad.

CBS Jacksonville affiliate WJAX reports the 8-year-old Florida boy became a web star as a baby, when a photo of him with a furrowed brow and a fist raised in triumph became a popular meme. Known as "Success Kid," the photo was seen by millions.

Now the boy and his family are turning to the medium that made him famous and asking for help online, because Sammy's father needs a kidney transplant.

Justin Griner, 39, was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2006 and suffered full kidney failure in 2009. He's been on dialysis ever since.

Success Kid's mom, Laney Griner, launched a GoFundMe campaign, writing, "[Justin's] mother died from this disease, please help us write a different story for Justin and his son, Sam." Their goal is to raise $75,000 for medical expenses. As of Tuesday afternoon, they were more than halfway there.

Though Medicare is covering some of the cost of dialysis and the transplant, additional treatments costs will add up, Laney told the Daily Dot, a social media news site.

"There's a lot of medicines and anti-rejection drugs one must take for life, some costing thousands of dollars a month," she said. "Medicare pays for the first three months, and that's it."

"One can only survive with no natural kidney function and using article kidney filtering for so long," she continued. "His energy and mood are affected, he can no longer work, and he spends 12 hours a week in dialysis clinic. Having been on dialysis for this long greatly increases his risks of developing further complications. The only way to save his life is to get a transplant. There's no other way around that."

Several relatives and friends have gotten tested as potential kidney donors, but so far no one's been a match.

Sammy first found fame as an 11-month-old in 2007 when Laney posted the now popular photo of him on the beach. Since then, the "Success Kid" meme has been used all over the media.

"We're the parents of 'Success Kid' for goodness sake," she told the Daily Dot. "If anyone understands the power, the mass, and goodwill of the Internet, it's those of us lucky to experience it daily."

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Sammy Griner with his parents, Justin and Laney. Laney Griner/GoFundMe.com
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