Woman who received kidney thanks to Tinder match spends Thanksgiving with her family

Found her life-saving donor after a Tinder match

A Tampa woman is relieved to be spending Thanksgiving with her family after being released from the hospital Thursday afternoon following a kidney transplant.

Erika Bragen was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, and she did not find a match until a few months ago -- thanks to a friend using Tinder.

Erika Bragen’s friend, Rich O’Dea, made a connection with Jennifer Thomas on Tinder. Tinder is an app that allows people who live in the same area to meet. Thomas learned about Erika Bragen’s story and decided to donate her kidney.

“I feel like I have a front row seat to such, just, an amazing miracle,” O’Dea said.

Erika Bragen had her surgery and was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon, which was just in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family and her donor.

“I didn’t realize how sick I felt until after I woke up and they put her kidney in me, and it was just like... I felt like my old self again,” Erika Bragen said.

Her husband, Scott, is happy Erika found a match after so many tries.

“Through a Tinder blind date -- of all things -- it was a connection, but it was a connection about hope and about saving a life,” Scott said.

Erika Bragen said she is thankful for having so many blessings this year.

“I’m so thankful for my family, of course, and my friends. I think my kids are thankful that I hopefully will be back to normal,” Erika Bragen said.

She said she is thrilled Thomas is now part of the family.

“I hope that they’ll keep me because I love everyone that I’ve gotten to meet through this whole experience. It’s really changed my life,” Thomas said.

Together, they want to continue helping other people who suffer from the same disease. They want to help bring awareness through their group Team Tampa PKD.

“Not only do we have today to be thankful for Erika and all of this that’s happened, but more people are waking up. They want to help, and that is everything I ever wanted,” Thomas said.

The Bragen couple, Thomas, and Team Tampa PKD want to start a national registry for PKD patients.

If you would like to help, go to their website to learn more about Team Tampa PKD and about Polycystic Kidney Disease.

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