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Monongahela kids' video to find life-saving kidney donor for mom goes viral

Ben Schmitt
| Friday, March 31, 2017, 12:57 p.m.
Diana Zippay with husband, Jason, son, Tobias and daughter, Bailey
Submitted
Diana Zippay with husband, Jason, son, Tobias and daughter, Bailey
Diana Zippay
Submitted
Diana Zippay

Diana Zippay needs a kidney to save her life.

That alone is tough for her to fathom.

Her two children, especially her 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, took the news harder.

"When I told her, 'I don't know how this is going to turn out,' we sat there on her bed and cried for two hours," Zippay, 35, of Monongahela said Friday. "She told me, 'I'm scared, Mommy.' I said it was OK to be scared."

Bailey didn't take that conversation lightly. She took action.

On Sunday, she demanded they make a video plea for a kidney donor to post on Zippay's Facebook page.

The two bespectacled children, Bailey and her brother Tobias, 4, created a video with a simple message written in Sharpie pen:

"Please help us spread the word. Our mommy needs a kidney!"

The children don't speak in the video. They just flip through photos and poster board homemade messages. The song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan plays in the background.

Zippay, a nurse at Monongahela Valley Hospital and former high school English teacher, hoped for 1,000 shares. She made the post public on her Facebook page.

By Tuesday it had 1,000. It also has more than 28,000 views and was featured by "Good Morning America."

"You see how something so small can make such big things happen, Mom?" Bailey told Zippay.

Zippay, who has the genetic disease Alport syndrome, is on the transplant waiting list at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh's North Side. People with Alport syndrome suffer progressive loss of kidney function.

The disease forced her into 20 hours a week of dialysis. Because the disease is genetic, she said she cannot receive a kidney from a family member.

Her husband, Jason, is diabetic and cannot be a donor.

"I am so hoping this is the ticket because I need to get better essentially," Zippay said of the viral video. "I need to get back to being a full-time mom and a nurse and a wife. I want to be that mom on the soccer field again and that mom at school classroom parties."

Dr. Lorenzo Machado, a transplant surgeon at Allegheny General Hospital, said social media could be helpful.

"In these transplant cases, social media has the power to reach everyone essentially worldwide," he said. "That means the chances of vetting a donor greatly increases for Diana and others."

Allegheny General Hospital performs about 100 kidney transplants a year. Machado said he noticed an uptick in phone calls this week for potential donors to Zippay.

He also urged anyone interested in donating a kidney for any person in need to be evaluated.

"There's no harm in coming in and letting us evaluate you," he said. "We do not put potential donors at undue risk."

Zippay is extremely proud of her children and their innovation.

"Bailey is really savvy with YouTube and stuff like that," she said. "The response has been fantastic and just what we wanted. Now we need a miracle."

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

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