Woman finds kidney donor through TikTok
Savannah Stallbaumer surprised Katie Hallum with the news in person.
Katie Hallum, a University of Oklahoma student who was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, turned to an unlikely place to help address her dire situation: TikTok.
In July 2022, Hallum took to TikTok, posting a funny video of herself dramatically entering a room, with text overlaid on the screen that reads, "POV: I overhear you say you have an O blood type and healthy kidneys."
"You have something I want," she says, lip-syncing a background track with audio from a scene in "The Mandalorian."
In the caption, she wrote, "Haha jk, unless…?"
The comedic post used humor to convey a very serious inquiry: Hallum had been diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, an incurable disorder, and was in need of a kidney transplant.
"I posted a few videos kind of mocking my situation," Hallum told ABC News.
Among the thousands who saw the video was Savannah Stallbaumer, who commented, "How do I get tested?"
"Imagine I actually can, like, help this girl, and I didn't do anything about it?" Stallbaumer recalled to ABC News, speaking of her decision to take action.
Months after testing, Stallbaumer learned she was a perfect match for Hallum's transplant.
Stallbaumer, who will start nursing school in January, chose to surprise Hallum with the news in person, meeting her at a restaurant with her family.
"I made it a priority to get down there and actually get to tell her myself," she said.
To deliver the news, Stallbaumer held up a sign that read "BREAKING NEWS: You're getting a new kidney," a nod to Hallum's role as a reporter for her local radio station.
The sign noted that the transplant was scheduled for Aug. 17, 2023.
Hallum said Stallbaumer's willingness to help a stranger was "humbling."
"To know that Savannah, who only knew me from the internet, was so willing to give up a part of herself, it was incredibly humbling," said Hallum. "It definitely does not feel like something life-changing has happened, even though it has. And I think there's a certain beauty to that."
The transplant went ahead on Aug. 17. Hallum said her doctors couldn't be happier with her recovery progress.
The feel-good story didn't end there: Hallum and Stallbaumer are now friends, and Hallum said her family even invited Stallbaumer over for Christmas.