BARRINGTON, N.J. – A New Jersey woman who found a kidney donor on Craigslist in 2015 but later was told the organ transplant couldn't happen because of complications has now received a kidney.
Egg Harbor City resident Nina Saria, 34, said Tuesday she got a kidney last month from her mother, who lives in the Republic of Georgia. She said Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez intervened with federal officials to grant her mother permission to travel to the United States.
"It's been difficult for us, but we kept fighting," Saria said.
In 2014, Saria learned that her kidneys were failing due to an autoimmune disease. She began dialysis and a search for a kidney donor.
Glenn Calderbank, of West Berlin, New Jersey, came across the Craigslist notice posted by Saria's husband, Kay, while scanning a section of the website for construction supplies. He prepared to undergo surgery in December 2015, but the operation was canceled after doctors with Philadelphia's Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania found cirrhosis of Calderbank's liver— a chronic disease.
Saria's mother, Nana Gulua, turned out to a perfect match. But the federal government requires people traveling to the U.S. to show they intend to return to their country and U.S. officials had concerns Gulua would want to stay with the family in New Jersey, Saria said.
Menendez said he contacted the American consulate in Georgia and reached out to Department of Homeland Security. He helped the Sarias apply for humanitarian parole through the department's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Saria received the kidney Dec. 1. She said life is back to normal for her, her husband and their son.