A Chattanooga woman has a new kidney thanks to social media and a generous donor.

A Facebook post brought the two strangers together at the right time.

“It’s life-changing for me. I pretty much missed out on my 20's being sick and thankfully, I can now get back to where I was going,” said Michelle O’Hara.

O’Hara is a 29 year-old mom with big dreams, but a few years ago those dreams were put on hold.

“I have an auto-immune disease that's hereditary. My father had it, his father, my aunt had it. It's called IgA nephropathy and basically, it just attacks your kidneys,” said O’Hara.

A few years ago she learned her kidneys were failing and soon after, she began dialysis.

O'Hara was added to the transplant list and desperately waited for a match.

In the meantime, she took to social media to plea for a new kidney.

“I did make a Facebook page and gave my whole story and it got shared hundreds, probably thousands of times. It eventually worked I guess because that's how she found me,” O’Hara told Local 3 News.

“It just felt like a sign I was supposed to do it,” said Arabella Miller.

The help would come from 20 year-old Miller, a stranger, who saw the post, got tested and was a perfect match.

“I cried, a lot, I didn't know what to think at first. I was like this can't be real. No, there's no way that some random person is going to bless me with a kidney like that,” said O’Hara.

A team of doctors with Erlanger Health System performed the transplant on June 14th at the hospital.

A few weeks after the surgery, O’Hara and Miller met for the first time.

“I feel incredible about it. Seeing that she's here, hearing that her labs are good and that she's doing well and able to live the life she wants to. That makes me feel like I made the best decision of my entire life,” Miller told Local 3 News.

Miller has played Roller Derby in Chattanooga for the past six years and is now cleared for contact again.

O'Hara says she's going back to school this fall to become an RN. She wants to work in nephrology to help people like her.

"Obviously I'm going to be able to work again and be there for my son to grow up unlike my father. He had the same disease and passed away when I was two. I just want to be there for my son and give him a good life,” said O’Hara.

O’Hara and Miller, now bonded for life, say they hope their story raises awareness about the importance of living organ donation.


Lori Mitchell joined Local 3 News in February 2017 and co-anchors our morning newscasts on weekday mornings. Lori reports on inspiring stories in her weekly "Making a Difference" segment, featuring people who are making a positive impact in the community.

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