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Erika Bragan undergoes kidney transplant surgery thanks to friend's Tinder date

By Chelsea Tatham
Courtesy of Scott Bragan
Erika Bragan, left, received a life-saving kidney donation from Jennifer Thomas on Wednesday. Both are reportedly doing well.

TAMPA — About eight hours and two surgeries later, Erika Bragan has a new kidney.

Both Bragan, a 44-year-old mother of two, and her donor, Jennifer Thomas, a 35-year-old mother of one, were doing well after Wednesday's procedure, Erika's husband Scott Bragan told the Tampa Bay Times.

The story of how a blind Tinder date led Thomas to donate her kidney to a complete stranger, Erika Bragan, who suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), went viral almost two weeks ago. The Bragans and Thomas were bombarded with requests for interviews from media outlets all over the world.

It all started over the summer when two people swiped right on Tinder, the dating app that matches people based on pictures and short profiles. The app connected Thomas with Rich O'Dea, who took her to a concert in July.

O'Dea talked about his friends the Bragans, their quest to find a donor for Erika Bragan's failing kidneys and his passion for running to raise money to combat PKD.

Thomas immediately wanted to get involved. A couple of months and many medical tests later, Thomas found out she would be able to donate a kidney to Erika Bragan.

Before receiving the life-saving transplant Wednesday, Erika Bragan was down to five percent kidney function because of PKD.

Thomas went into the operating room first Wednesday, a little before 8 a.m. Erika Bragan followed her into surgery around 11:30 a.m. By late afternoon, they were done.

"Both are out and doing amazing," Scott Bragan, 47, texted around 3:30 p.m. "(They were) very successful surgeries."

Both Erika Bragan and Thomas will need a few weeks of recovery time. Erika Bragan will also need to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of her life to prevent organ rejection.

The Bragans plan to stay connected with Thomas and keep raising funds and awareness for PKD through Scott Bragan's Team Tampa PKD running group, which O'Dea runs for.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] and on Twitter @chelseatatham.