Dad of 'Success Kid' Undergoes Successful Kidney Transplant

Justin Griner underwent a kidney transplant last week.

ByABC News
August 18, 2015, 4:57 PM

— -- The father of the boy made into a famous meme dubbed "Success Kid" is back at home after having a successful kidney transplant last week.

Sammy Griner became famous on the Internet after a picture of him as an 11-month-old infant went viral. In the picture Sammy has his hand balled up into the fist with a pugnacious look on his face, the image quickly turned into the "Success Kid" meme.

While the family thought that funny viral moment would be the end of it, the family credits the meme with helping them raise funds for the operation. By using the "Success Kid" meme they were able raise thousands of dollars in just days after launching the fundraiser. In total, the family said they raised more than $100,000 to help with care surrounding the operation.

“There’s so much positivity,” Sammy’s mother Lainey Griner told ABC News. “There’s not a single thing we regret about ‘Success Kid.’ ... It’s pretty crazy how it all happened. I still can’t wrap my head around it.”

Justin Griner, of Jacksonville, Florida had been spending hours on dialysis nearly every day for six years after his kidneys started to fail. But last week the family got the exciting call that a kidney was available, according to their GoFundMe account. Hours after the call Griner successfully underwent the kidney transplant operation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Justin Griner said when Sammy was told the news, he burst into tears.

“It’s been his whole life to reach that goal line, I think he was overwhelmed,” he said.

The family say they’re excited to finally be able to take a real trip now that Justin Griner no longer needs to spend hours getting dialysis.

The family wants to "do a cross-country trip with Sam and see the country," he said.

On Instagram, Laney Griner documented her husband's recovery and asked others to consider being an organ donor.

Justin Griner said he’s been blown away by the messages of support he received after the operation and said that the meme has only been positive for the family.

“As much bad stuff you might see in the news every day, it’s refreshing to see for the most part that people are good and want to take care of each other,” he said.

Laney Griner said she hopes their story will make other people consider being an organ donor.

"If the #successkidney story has a moral, it's be an organ donor! Thanks for being part of our amazing #transplant adventure," she wrote on Twitter.