ShareThis Page

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
Diana Zippay with husband, Jason, son, Tobias and daughter, Bailey
Diana Zippay
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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me