Erika Bragan of Tampa, Florida has polycystic kidney disease and has been on the waiting list for a new kidney for years. The mother of two was in the midst of her search for a kidney donor when her friend Rich O'Dea happened to go on a first date with Jennifer Thomas, who he met on Tinder.
Over the course of the date, the Tinder matches talked about all kinds of things, from favorite foods to the fact that O'Dea's close friend -- Bragan -- was currently looking for a kidney match. Thomas, who's also a mother and clearly a remarkably kind and empathetic person, told People that she "felt for Erika" and that she "just couldn't imagine being in her shoes and her children losing their mother." At that point, Thomas recalled, she knew she had to find a way to help Bragan.
O'Dea and Thomas amicably decided not to go on a second date, but O'Dea heard from Thomas not long after. Thomas was calling not because she had romantic interest in O'Dea, but because she wanted to help his friend.
At that point, O'Dea put Thomas in touch with the Bragan family, and after several months of testing, Tampa General Hospital delivered the happy news that Thomas was a match for Bragan. All systems are now in place for Bragan to receive a kidney donation from Thomas on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The Bragans told People that they now consider Thomas and her son close family friends, which comes as no surprise. It also seems like the Bragan family are no strangers to paying it forward themselves. Scott Bragan, Erika's husband, is the team leader for a marathon training group that has raised more than $100,000 for polycystic kidney disease research over the past six years.