Family hopes stranger's kidney will match

Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-29 18:17:25-04

We’re taking action for your health, raising awareness about polycystic kidney disease. It is the single most life-threatening genetic illness and one the Bragan family of Tampa is battling daily.

Living pain-free is a distant memory for Erika Bragan.

“Slowed me down, it has made me very tired, made it so that I can't do the things that I want to do,” Erika said.

She's up against polycystic kidney disease, the same disease that killed her mother.

You have these fluid filled cysts on the kidney that stop the kidney from functioning,” Erika’s husband, Scott Bragan, said.

That leaves toxins in the body. When Erika's symptoms started getting worse in 2008, her husband Scott decided to get involved. They've raised about $100,000 dollars for PKD and Scott's about to run his eighth marathon to gain awareness.

“Feeling that pain, in some way I feel like I'm sharing some of her pain,” Scott said.

Neither of them expected someone to share what Erika needs most, a kidney, until they met Jennifer Thomas, who's getting tested to be a donor.

“I just feel like I'm doing the right thing, it's not to me any exceptional act,” Thomas said.

She met a friend of the Bragans on a blind date and this complete stranger wanted to help.

“I think the more important question is, why is it so shocking that I would?” Thomas said.

Thomas is going through her final testing now and could be giving Erika a kidney in the next few weeks.

“I almost feel like the planet are aligned and that she's come down from the heavens and she's our angel,” Scott said.

“I think it's absolutely amazing,” Erika said.

Erika said she can't wait for normal life and feeling healthy with her family.

“I want to be there with them I want to enjoy a meal with them I just want to enjoy the day to day things without having to worry about if I'm going to get sick or not,” Erika said.

Doctors want Erika to start dialysis any day now, but Thomas’ kidney could come just in time.

The Bragans encourage everyone to get tested to see if they could become living donors. There are a number of ways you can support Team PKD.

Team Tampa PKD presents Drive for a Cure, a charity scramble golf tournament, at Eagles Golf Club in Odessa, FL, Friday October 2. For details call Kevin O’Brien 813-545-5450 or e-mail

The Halloween Boo Bash benefiting PKD will be at the Italian Club of Ybor City on Friday October 16. For more details call 813-399-6420.

The Unite to Fight PKD was is Saturday October 17 at Fort De Soto Park, Shelter 14, 2500 Pinellas Bayway South Tierra Verde, FL. Check in is at 9:30 am. For more information contact