Jacksonville woman saves life of child she saw on Facebook

2-year-old in Minnesota was in desperate need of a kidney transplant

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter, Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One post on Facebook changed the lives of two mothers and one brave 2-year-old girl.

A Jacksonville woman said she had to take action after she saw pictures of that little girl in her newsfeed, along with a message that caught her attention:

Arianna Moore being fed by her father weeks after it's discovered she's in kidney failure.

"You could be her hero. Are you type O blood?"

The little girl living in Minnesota was the same age as Christy Harding's daughter, and Harding has Type O blood.

She clicked on the picture that day in December 2013 and began a journey that would save a stranger's life.

"I cannot imagine having a child who's sick and knowing there's a way to save her and it's up to other people to help," Harding said.

Little Arianna Moore has a rare condition that causes scar tissue that prevents her kidneys from functioning. She needed a transplant, and Harding made up her mind after seeing the Facebook post to find out if she was a match.

She called her husband and then her mother. Both were supportive.

VIDEO: Woman donates kidney to save 2-year-old's life

"If she wants to do something, she's going to do it, and I trust her," said Keith Harding, Christy's husband.

It would take about five to six months of tests and interviews before Christy Harding would know for sure she was a perfect match.

Arianna and her twin sister, Neveah as babies.

Arianna Moore

Jeremy Moore said he was hoping for a little girl when he learned his partner, Ashley Booth, was pregnant with their third child. The couple, who met in high school, already had two boys, so a girl would be a perfect addition to the family, Moore said.

"When we were having the sonogram, the nurse heard two heart beats," Booth said. 

She quickly learned not only was she having a girl, she was having two.

"The day they were born, they were perfectly healthy and beautiful," Booth recalled. 

Arianna and her twin sister, Neveah (pictured), went home with their parents, but it wasn't long before Arianna was back in the hospital.

"When she was 7 weeks old, she got a fever," Booth said.

That was the first sign that Arianna was not healthy. After days of tests, doctors discovered Arianna's rare condition. Neveah had no health problems.

Arianna was put on dialysis immediately: 12 hours a day, every day of the week. It kept her alive, but her mother knew she needed more.

Arianna had to have dialysis 12 hours a day, every day, before her transplant.

"She couldn't live on dialysis forever," Booth said.

Arianna needed a new kidney to live a long, healthy life.  

"It was hard knowing that I couldn't save my daughter's life," Booth said. "I brought her into this world, and I couldn't do anything to save her. So to have a stranger willing to do it for me, to save her. You feel this gratitude."

Booth and Moore wanted to be their daughter's donor, but Booth had gestational diabetes throughout all three of her pregnancies, and Moore, who stands more than 6 feet tall, was too big to donate. His kidney would not fit in his daughter's tiny body.

Moore's sister-in-law tried to donate, too. She was approved but within a week of the surgery Arianna became sick and her aunt was no longer an option. 

Facebook

A close friend of Arianna's family suggested they set up a Facebook page to update friends and family about the baby's condition.

"She jokingly said, 'Who knows maybe we'll find a donor?'" Booth recalled.

Months later the transplant coordinator called to say Arianna had a donor and they needed to schedule the surgery.

"She's like, 'It's somebody you don't know. I guess it was someone who came across it on Facebook,' and I was like, 'It worked?'" Booth said. "Her page really worked to find her a kidney?"

Christy Harding did not want to get the family's hopes up after the close call earlier with Arianna's aunt, so she waited until all the tests were completed before she reached out to Booth on Facebook, after the transplant coordinator told the family.

Harding broke down in tears when she saw a video of Booth, also crying, reading the Facebook post that changed their lives.

The surgery

The surgery was a success. Arianna, who is developmentally delayed by about four months, is now off dialysis and is catching up to her sister. She will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, which cause the hair on her arms to grow longer and darken, but no one is complaining. She will be able to take smaller doses of the medication as she gets older.

MORE: How to become an organ donor

Arianna and her mother, Ashley.

Christy Harding had a six-week recovery but has no side effects from the surgery. She does not have to take any medications.  She said she feels like she's always felt; she just happens to only have one kidney now.

"I was meant to be her donor, and I have learned, you have to do good, when there's good to be done," Harding said. "You can't wait for someone else to do it."

Booth (pictured with Arianna) and Moore are forever thankful to Harding.

"You feel a love for that donor that you can never feel for anyone else," Booth said. 

Disney trip fundraiser

Harding continues to give to Arianna's family. She is raising money through a gofundme account to bring Arianna and her siblings to Florida. They have never been to Disney World. They are $3,500 dollars from their goal. To donate, go to gofundme.com or mail a donation to Christy Harding, P.O. Box 15256 Jacksonville, Florida 32277. 

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